Today we’re looking at the connection between your low back, and your shoulder in improving your throwing.
In our last video we looked at the basics of improving shoulder mechanics for any kind of overhead motion, if you play a sport where you’re throwing a ball, where you’re hitting a ball. baseball, tennis, football, volleyball, because one of the most common complaints that we run into is shoulder pain in overhead movement.
In our last video I showed you a bunch of movement explorations to improve the movement of your shoulder blade particularly, because the shoulder blade does play a pivotal role in what happens with the shoulder and any kind of overhead movement.
Today we want to talk about part number two, which I mentioned in video one, which is the bending to the side. Again if you look at videos of excellent performers around the world in doing any kind of overhead motion what you’ll typically see is this arm is going to come up to about ninety degrees or a little bit more, but in in order to get the extension overhead what they actually do is they take their spine and they bend it to the side.
One of the things that we see after working with thousands of people around the world is that the lateral side of the body, okay? The outsides of the body are often ignored and forgotten when we do mobility work, when we do strength training, or it’s at least kind of combined with everything else.
That’s unfortunate because lack of mobility to the side is a key indicator for us of why people have shoulder pain. What I want you to start to think about is let’s do a little bit of movement exploration, again of just your side bending capacity. We want to do it some specific ways since we’re talking about being overhead.
What I’m going to ask you to do, first of all is get into a neutral stance, just kind of a comfortable stance, bend your knees slightly, don’t do anything cool with your pelvis or abdomen, just relax. I want you to just test your side bending by running your hands down the side of your legs.
Now, if you’re right handed obviously whenever you’re throwing or doing anything overhead you need to be bending to the left. You want to see how’s my mobility to the left, compare that to your mobility to the right. It should be relatively equal, for a lot of you it probably is not. Now once you’ve done that basic exploration the next thing I want you to do is I want you to imagine that you’re throwing a ball. If I was throwing the ball and I’m right handed I’d be stepping forward with my left foot and following through. I’m going to get you now into a little bit of a lunge position, so take your left foot forward. Again, I’m going by statistics, about ninety percent of you are right handers. You can do it the opposite if you’re a lefty.
Step forward with your left foot, now from here I want you to do the same test. I want you to just drop to the side, and drop to the side. Just get an idea of what feels different. Now, usually what we do whenever we’re working on improving lateral bending with people, we do two basic exercises. The first one is from our R-Phase series, so come back to the mid line, just neutral stance, and all we’re going to do is we’re going to act like we’re a little marionette. You’re just going to roll around to the front, we’re going to go in each direction, and what I want you to focus on is not going all the way to the floor, I actually just want you to focus on the side to side movements, seeing if you can feel your low back relaxing into the motion as you bend, coming forward, and around.
A lot of people that we work with are scared to flex their lumbar spine because they’ve heard that’s a bad thing, well there are joints there and they need to move. We’re not asking you to bend it a ton because there’s only about twenty five degree range of motion in full flexion. You don’t have to be doing huge big motions because that’s then going to incorporate other parts of the body. We did our first little what we called from lumbar circle, now I want you to try that same lumbar circle in a lunge. Step forward again into that lunge position, left leg forward. Once again nice small controlled front lumbar circle, just exploring the motion, trying to improve particularly your lateral bending. Get an idea of your level of comfort with that, okay?
Now once you start to feel a little more bendy side to side it’s then time to up the ante a little bit. Our next exercise is fairly simple, but it’s easier to do if you’re by a wall. Now I’m out here in the middle of a field so I don’t have a wall so we’re going to take it kind of easy, but we call this a lateral opener. What I’m going to do, I’m going to take my, I’m working on my left side. I’m going to take my left leg and I’m going to put it behind me gently. I’m going to reach back behind my standing leg, I’m just going to relax my foot, my front knee will be bent slightly and I’m going to try to keep my pelvis to the front. I’m then going to take my left arm out to the side and just bend away.
Now obviously if I had a wall here, something to support myself I can play around with my movements a little bit. Most of you will find this an amazingly comfortable stretch if you don’t push into it for the lateral side of the body. You want to do that on both sides. Now once you have that mobility restored we then want to do a final connecting drill where we’re going to go back to our scapular motion drill but we’re now going to combine it with the lateral bending. I know this starts to seem a little complex but what we found over the years is that your brains very specific in how it learns movements patterns. If you just work on learning how to move your scapula in neutral, it may not apply as much when you’re actually in a throwing motion.
What we’re going to do now is we’re going to take this one step further, so I’m going to get into my left lunge position again as if I was going to throw the ball. Now from here what I want to do is I want to bend to my left, again thinking about all the exercises I was just doing. From here I’m going to take my arm out to my ninety degrees again, so my big L shape, and I’m going to go through my scapular exercise. Remember we did three to five reps in three positions. Here, here once again through that basic motion, and then here, all right?
Now that you’ve tested dropping side to side and comparing; the question is, what do you do about it? If you have a specific side where you have a lot more tension, let’s say I’ve done my first test and I can slide all the way down past my knee on my left but when I try and go on my right I’m stuck about mid thigh. Obviously you have some level of mobility imbalance, or strength imbalance or something. First you just want to find it, then you say, “Okay well I’m starting to do some of these exercises that we’re looking at,” maybe you want to bias doing three to one ratios of exercises to open up the side that is not as mobile. That’s just what you want to think about if you find significant differences side to side.
These are base level mobility drills that once you start to master them you want to then go into exploring the technique. That’s probably the most difficult thing for people to understand about what we do. We give you movements to make your brain smarter about movement and then we ask you to go back to doing what you were doing before and feel the changes. If you were out there and you were throwing a ball before you’d do your basic scapular exercises, you’d do your lateral bending, you’d do your combined lateral bending with your scapular exercise. Now when you go back to throwing what you should find is that your movement is more free, and if you were having little pinches or pain those should be dramatically reduced or gone.
Now, this won’t fix everybody, it won’t fix everything, but these are exercises based off of what we see in the mechanics of people who do this professionally for many, many years. Those are our models.
So give this stuff a shot.
If you have any questions about it or how to apply it please let us know.
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