The Best Exercise You’re Not Doing For Your Shoulders
We have already discussed how to perform the Get-Up along with a variety of cuing tips and quick and easy fixes to common mistakes (see our last 2 blogs here: Part 1 Part 2). Now we’re going to talk safety.
Logically, The Get-Up will require you to express a full range of shoulder flexion (among other things) on the kettlebell side. Well… this can get hairy for many as a limitation in shoulder flexion is common. We recommend evaluating shoulder flexion when possible before having attempting to perform overhead work. Many use the Function Movement Screen to determine whether or not overhead work is safe. While we like the idea in concept (of using the FMS), we are big proponents of directly measuring shoulder flexion.
How to measure shoulder flexion:
First stand with your back against a wall and heels a little less than a foot from the wall. The head, upperback and tailbone should all be and remain in contact with the wall.
From this position, try to flex one shoulder to 90 degrees (the arm should be in front and at shoulder height) with a straight elbow and thumb up. Next is to raise the arm up until the thumb hits the wall while maintaining a straight elbow. The goal is to maintain the aforementioned 3 points of contact on the wall, and, if successful, this will show that your shoulder flexion is not limited.
If you cannot reach the wall you are limited. If you reach the wall, but either bend the elbow OR extend the spine you are limited.
Why having a full range of motion (ROM) is critical:
Let’s start of by defining the term “structural load”. A structural load is a load in which the weight/kettlebell/external force is positioned in a way that allows for the joints to remain in an optimal position and for the load to be transferred further up/down the chain to the “core”. Additionally, the load is close to your center of mass. It simply comes down to how the student positions their body relative to the load. An easy example to help with this concept is to go grab a dumbbell or kettlebell. This weight should be a weight you are very comfortable and confident in holding overhead. Seriously. Go get one. Stand up and safely press the object overhead. Once overhead, position the object so that the fist is directly over the shoulder joint while maintaining a straight elbow. If your joints and spine are all neutral and your core is active, you should feel as if this weight is very manageable. Maybe even a little light. Your Lats, anterior core, and posterior core should all be wide awake and helping your maintain this position. Notice you don’t feel too much in your Delt. This is representative of a structural load. Now follow all the same steps, but then allow the weight to get a bit further in front of you and a little lower to the ground (less shoulder flexion). The farther from your body and your center of mass, the harder it is for your core to assist. In fact, go far enough forward and it begins to feel as if your Delt is on an island. This is not a structural load. Therefore, in The Get-Up a structural load is what you want to maintain throughout.
What happens when you do overhead with bad positioning:
When performing overhead work, such as Turkish Get-Up, Waiter’s Walks, Presses, or Snatches, it’s important to have a neutral spine for a variety of reasons. Maintaining a neutral spine puts you in an optimal position to brace and maintain stability throughout the exercise. If you have limited shoulder flexion, getting the working arm(s) into the optimal position without compromising joint position elsewhere is impossible. Specifically, extension of the spine, lateral shifting and/or rotation of the pelvis, and flexion of the elbow are all common compensations. This will logically put high levels of stress on the elbow or somewhere in the spine increasing the chances of injury.
Time to wrap it up:
After reading our last three installments on The Turkish Get-Up you should be quite a bit more knowledgeable on the intricacies of performance, evaluating, and cuing, etc. However, in order to be as effective as possible we recommend practicing many many times with lighter, manageable loads before picking up the kettlebells.
Align Fitness is a personal training and semi-private training company. Our personal training studios are located in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania and Downingtown, Pennsylvania. We offer a wide array of services including returning to exercise after injury (Post-Rehab), weight loss, golf fitness, sports performance, lessening the physical impact of neuromuscular disease, and pain reduction. We utilize a wide array of equipment with our clients including kettlebells, TRX, steel mace, dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, and often incorporate bodyweight exercises into our programs. For more information or to schedule a free consultation visit our homepage. We also work along side Action Potential Physical Therapy in Glen Mills and physical therapist Dr. Arianne Missimer in Downingtown.