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Keys to Effectively Stretching the Forearm

Sometimes you do something and don’t even realize what it means when you do it.

I’ve always been complimented by my athletes and patients about how I stretch their forearms.  They tend to gravitate to me for a stretch.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve worked with so many baseball players with stiff forearms, but apparently my technique feels more effective to people.

As with everything else, I do put a lot of thought into my technique to stretch the forearm.  The issue I think I see with people is that they are solely focused on wrist flexion and extension, and miss the majority of the stretch this way.

I wanted to share a quick video demonstrating how I stretch stretch the forearm.  Not rocket science, but paying attention to the little details will surely help you stretch the forearm more effectively.

These same concepts can be applied if you are performed a forearm stretch on yourself.

 

Keys to Effectively Stretching the Forearm

Essentially what it comes down to is assuring you:

  • Lock out the elbow
  • Bring the wrist into flexion or extension
  • Also include pronation or supination
  • Assure that you are including all the fingers
  • Assure that the finger joints are not flexing, extend them too

Hope this helps you more effectively stretch the forearm!  Let me know what you think and if you do something different.

 

 

Assessing for Lat and Teres Tightness with Overhead Shoulder Mobility

Limitations in overhead shoulder mobility are common and often a frequent source of nagging shoulder pain and decreased performance.  Any loss of shoulder elevation mobility can be an issue with both fitness enthusiasts and athletes.  Just look at all the exercises that require a good amount of shoulder mobility in the fitness, Crossfit, and sports performance worlds.  Overhead press, thrusters, overhead squats, and snatches are some of the most obvious, put even exercises like pullups, handstands, wall balls, and hanging knee and toe ups can be problematic, especially when combined with speed and force such as during a kipping pull up.

Assessing for Lat and Teres Tightness with Overhead Shoulder MobilityWhen assessing for limitations in overhead shoulder elevation, there are several things you need to evaluate.  I’ve discussed many of these in several past blog posts and Inner Circle webinars on How to Assess Overhead Shoulder Mobility.

I am worried about what I am seeing on the internet right now.

I feel like the mobility trends I am seeing are focused on torquing the shoulder joint to try to improve overhead mobility.  Remember, the shoulder is a VERY mobile joint that tends to run into trouble from a lack of stability.  Trying to stretch out the joint or shoulder capsule should never be the first thing you attempt with self mobilization techniques.  In fact, I have found it causes way more problems than it solves.

Think about it for a second…

If your shoulder can’t fully elevate, jamming it into more elevation is only going to cause more issues. Find the cause. [Click to Tweet]

In my experience, the focus should be on the soft tissue around the joint, not the shoulder joint itself.  The muscles tend to be more of the mobility issue from my experience than the joint.  Just think about all the chronic adaptations that occur from out postures and habits throughout the date.

Two of the most muscles that I see causing limitations in overhead shoulder mobility at the latissimus dorsi and the teres major.

Here’s a quick and easy way to assess the lat and teres during arm elevation.

Assessing and Improving Overhead Shoulder Mobility

For those interested in learning more, I have a few Inner Circle webinars on how to assess and improve overhead shoulder mobility:

How to Know When to Push a Stiff and Painful Shoulder

If you have ever worked with someone with a stiff and painful shoulder, you know how challenging it can be to gain motion.  Regardless of if this is a postoperative shoulder, someone that gets tight from shoulder impingement, or someone with adhesive capsulitis, push too hard or too fast often backfires and causes them to get worse!

One of the more common questions I get from students and new clinicians is – “how do you know when to push range of motion.”

Luckily, there is a pretty simple way to knowing when to push a stiff and painful shoulder and when to back off.

Assess End Feel

How to Know When to Push a Stiff and Painful ShoulderIn addition to assessing the quantity of motion, you should also assess the quality of motion.  This is essentially the “end feel,” or the quality of the end range of motion.

Every joint has a normal end feel.  Some common examples are:

  • Boney: Hard end feel of two bones approximating.  Elbow extension is a good example.
  • Capsular or Ligamentous: Often described as stretching a piece of leather.  This is normal joint end feel, such as with shoulder external rotation
  • Muscular: This is more like stretching a piece of rubber, like when stretching the hamstrings
  • Tissue Approximation: When the mobility is stopped because you run out of room to move, such as during elbow or knee flexion.
  • Empty: Pain does not allow you to get to the end of the range of motion, you stop in the middle of the range.
  • Spasm: An abrupt end of the movement that feels as if the person is in pain and guarded.  This feels like the muscles are stopping the motion and spasming.

Don’t Push Through a Spasm End Feel

A simple rule I have always followed and has helped me know when to push motion with a painful and stiff shoulder is to never push through a spasm end feel.

If someone presents with a spasm end feel, your primary treatment objective should switch from trying to gain motion to trying to reduce spasm.  Attempting to push through the spasm almost always backfires.

You’ll know you can push harder when the spasm end feel changes to a capsular end feel.  That’s your cue to get more aggressive.  But…  be careful!  It’s possible to push too hard or too fast again and revert back to a spasm end feel.

Learn How I Treat the Stiff Shoulder

If you are interested in mastering your understanding of the shoulder, I have an amazing online program teaching you exactly how I evaluate and treat the shoulder!

shoulder seminarThe online program at takes you through an 8-week program with new content added every week.  You can learn at your own pace in the comfort of your own home.  You’ll learn exactly how I approach:

  • The evaluation of the shoulder
  • Selecting exercises for the shoulder
  • Manual resistance and dynamic stabilization drills for the shoulder
  • Nonoperative and postoperative rehabilitation
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Shoulder instability
  • SLAP lesions
  • The stiff shoulder
  • Manual therapy for the shoulder

The program offers 21 CEU hours for the NATA and APTA of MA and 20 CEU hours through the NSCA.

large-ordernow

A Simple and Easy Hip Mobility Drill for Low Back Pain

Low back pain continues to be one of the most common health complaints that limit people, especially as we age.  Rehabilitation of low back pain has transition from simply focusing on reducing the local pain to emphasizing a biomechanical approach of how other areas of the body, such as the hips, impact low back pain.

Essentially we have done a great job moving away from simply treating the symptoms and working towards finding the movement impairment leading to the low back pain.  Sure, using something like a TENS device may have a role to neuromodulate pain, but it is now common knowledge that the improvements seen are transient at best and not addressing the real dysfunction.

One area that has received a lot of attention, and rightfully so, is looking at limitations in hip mobility as a cause of low back pain.  Much of the research to date has focused on looking at the loss of hip external rotation and internal rotation mobility.  In fact, I have an older article on the correlation between hip mobility and low back pain.

I can say that my own ability to help people with low back pain has greatly improved as I’ve learned to focus on hip mobility over the years.

hip extension mobility low back painHip Mobility and Low Back Pain

A new study was recently published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy that adds to our understanding of the influence of hip mobility on low back pain.  In the current study, the authors evaluated hip external rotation, internal rotation, and extension mobility in two groups of individuals, those with and without nonspecific low back pain.

While using a Thomas test to assess hip extension, the authors found the follow:

  • Hip extension in those with low back pain = -4.16 degrees
  • Hip extension in those without low back pain = 6.78 degrees

That’s a total loss of 10 degrees of hip extension in those with low back pain.

A Loss of Hip Extension Correlates to Low Back Pain

So now in addition to rotational loss of hip rotational mobility, it has been shown that a loss of hip extension correlates to low back pain.  To me, this has always been something I have focused on and makes perfect sense, especially as we age.

The vast majority of our society sits for the majority of the day and becomes less and less active as they age.  Among many things, this results in tight hip flexors and an anterior pelvic tilt posture.

Putting recreational activities like sports and running aside, this anterior pelvic tilt posture with tight hip flexors causes a loss of hip extension mobility and the low back tends to take the load but hyperextending.  This happens while simply walking and in a standing posture.

Think about the results above, people with low back pain have negative hip extension, meaning they can’t even extend to neutral!

As we all know, the human body is amazing and will compensate.  Hips don’t extend?  No problem, we’ll extend our spine more.

So a pretty easy step to take to reduce back pain is to work on hip extension mobility.

One drill that almost everyone that trains at Champion PT and Performance gets is what I named the “True Hip Flexor Stretch.”  I’ve talked about it at length in past articles, but I am a believer that most of our hip flexor stretches commonly performed in the fitness world are disadvantageous and not actually stretching what we want to stretch.

The True Hip Flexor Stretch is a great place to start to work on hip extension mobility:

As you can see (and feel), this gets a great stretch on your hip flexors without causing any compensatory low back extension.  And by focusing on posterior pelvic tilt, we gear this towards those with a lot of anterior pelvic tilt.

I really believe that the “True Hip Flexor Stretch” is one of the most important stretches you should be performing.  [Click to Tweet]

Next, Focus on Reducing Anterior Pelvic Tilt in People with Low Back Pain

Updated Strategies on Anterior Pelvic TiltI’m not a big believer that static posture is the most important thing we should all be focusing on when outline our treatment and fitness programs, but it’s a start.  Someone in an anterior pelvic tilt static posture isn’t always evil, and can be the result of many things such as poor core control, poor mobility, and even excessive weight.  I tend to care more about how well people move.

But based on the current evidence, it’s a great place to start.

Once you’ve started to gain some hip mobility, there is a ton more work to do.  We also have to work on glute and core control, among other things.  If you’re interested in learning more, I have a hugely popular Inner Circle webinar on my treatment strategies for anterior pelvic tilt that goes into detail on what I recommend:

In summary, we now have a nice study that shows people with low back pain have 10 degrees less hip extension that those without.  This makes sense, and focusing on hip extension should be one of the key components of any low back pain program.

How to Perform Self-Myofascial Release

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on my How to Perform Self-Myofascial Release is now available.

How to Perform Self-Myofascial Release

Self Myofascial Release SystemThis month’s Inner Circle webinar reviews my system of performing self-myofascial release.  As with anything else, there is a right way, wrong way, and a better way to perform self-myofascial release.  In this webinar I will:

  • Discuss why we use self-myofascial release
  • Review the different types of tools you can use and my recommendations on what I think is best
  • Overview how I perform self-myofascial release with my clients, patients, and athletes
  • Discuss when to perform self-myofascial release

To access this webinar:

And if you’re looking for my recommendations, click here to see my list of the best foam rollers and self myofascial release tools.

Foam Rolling for Recovery

Foam rolling has become a popular component of most personal training and sports performance program.  It is simple to perform with cheap equipment.  But more importantly “it works.”

There has been quite a bit of debate on what “it works” means to different people.  This was probably perpetuated by naming the use of a foam roller as “self-myofascial release.”  Many have argued that foam rolling does nothing to “release” the fascia as the ability to deform fascia significantly is well beyond the means of a simple piece of foam or PVC pipe.

At times, that has lead to the knee-jerk reaction of some to essentially say that foam rolling does nothing to the fascia, thus must be useless and a waste of time to perform.  Too bad it wasn’t just called “self-massage.”

Many, including some prominent strength coaches, have argued back saying again that “it simple works” because people feel better after foam rolling.

I couldn’t agree more.  However, I’m not a big fan of just say “it just works.”  I want more than that.

 

Foam Rolling Helps Recovery

self-myofascial release for recoveryWhile foam rolling has become popular, it still is used most often as a way to prepare for training.  However, a recent research report was published in the Journal of Athletic Training that looked at the effect of foam rolling after training on delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMS) and performance.

In the study, 8 collegiate men performed a 10×10 squat protocol to completely exhaust their quads and cause DOMS.  The groups performed this two times, once with performing foam rolling afterward and another time without foam rolling.  In the experimental group, foam rolling was performed immediately after squatting, as well as 24- and 48-hours later.

Foam rolling for recoveryThe foam rolling procedure consisted of 2 rounds of rolling for 45 seconds each over the quads, adductors, hamstrings, IT band, and Glutes.

Results of the study showed that DOMS was significantly reduced when foam rolling was performed.  However, they also discovered 30 meter sprint time, broad-jump distance, and change-of-direction speed were all negatively effected by the presence of DOMS, but the impact was lower if they performed foam rolling.

 

Implications

Based on this article, I’m not sure we are any closer to understanding “why” foam rolling works, however we do understand more of “how” foam rolling works.

Foam rolling isn’t just a way to prepare for training, but also a useful tool to recover from training.

Foam rolling should be performed both before and after training, and likely even on off days after training.  Doing so will reduce the amount of soreness you have after a hard session and allow you to train hard or perform better next time.  This is important for everyone from the personal training client to the in-season athlete.

Put simply, foam rolling helps you recover faster and then perform better, I know everyone at Champion is definitely still foam rolling!

 

How I Use Foam Rolling and Self-Myofascial Release

This month’s Inner Circle webinar will be on how I use foam rolling and self-myofascial release in my programs.  I’ll be going over specific techniques using a variety of tools to perform a comprehensive self-myofascial release program.  You can simple roll back and forth, but there are better ways to incorporate self-myofascial release to be even more effective.

The webinar will be on Thursday March 19th at 8:00 PM EST but I’ll record it for those that can’t make it live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enhancing Overhead Shoulder Mobility

Enhancing Overhead Shoulder MobilityOverhead shoulder mobility is one of the things that a large majority of people could all improve on if addressed appropriately.  This seems to be limited in a very large percentage of people, especially in those with shoulder pain and dysfunction.  Perhaps it has to do with our seated postures or our more sedentary lifestyles, but regardless limited overhead shoulder mobility is probably going to cause issues if not addressed.

 

Enhancing Overhead Shoulder Mobility

Here is a clip from my brand new educational program with Eric Cressey, Functional Stability Training for the Upper Body.  In the clip I am assessing someone with limited overhead shoulder mobility.  During the assessment it became clear that he had a few issues limiting his mobility, but I wanted to demonstrate how a few simple manual therapy techniques can clear up this pattern rather quickly if assessed and treated appropriately.

It really goes back down to a proper assessment and know what you are looking for when assessing people.  This is just a very small clip of some of the great information we cover in our new program, which is on sale for $20 off this week (sale ends Sunday May 18th at midnight EST).   Click here or the image below to order now before the sale ends!

Functional Stability Training for the Upper Body

5 Common Stretches We Probably Shouldn’t Be Using

5 Common Stretches We Probably Shouldnt Be DoingThe latest Inner Circle webinar recording on the 5 Common Stretches We Probably Shouldn’t Be Using is now available.

5 Common Stretches We Probably Shouldn’t Be Using

This month’s Inner Circle webinar was on 5 Common Stretches We Probably Shouldn’t Be Using.  Don’t get me wrong, I do perform stretches with people, but I think we often over utilize them as well.  Here are 5 stretches that are pretty common, why I think we overuse them, and what to do about it.

To access the webinar, please be sure you are logged in and are a member 0f the Inner Circle program.