Building Strong and Mobile Shoulders, Part 1: Mobility Tests | STACK

Building Strong and Mobile Shoulders, Part 1: Mobility Tests

March 21, 2012

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

Shoulder soreness particularly affects athletes in sports that involve throwing or swinging, due to the high use of the joint. Athletes might be tempted to push through pain or neglect the joint altogether—but that can completely derail a training program, leading to further injury or a loss of valuable strength.

The shoulder is a complex joint, so great care must be taken when training with a wing not quite ready for flight. When I refer to shoulder pain, I am talking about soreness and dull aches, as opposed to sharp pains or severe structural damage. Any time you have a nagging pain, please seek the clearance of a sports medicine professional to rule out serious injury or complications. Once your joint integrity has been deemed healthy, you can get to work improving the function of your shoulder.

The shoulder is made of several joints and muscles that work together to provide the largest range of motion of any joint in the body. However, such a complex structure is subject to numerous possibilities for weakness and dysfunction. The key to identifying shoulder issues, and consequently the appropriate course of action to correct them, can be deciphered through two simple self-tests.

Mobility Screen: Apley Scratch Test
Place your arm overhead and reach behind your neck to touch your opposite shoulder blade with your palm. This checks whether your shoulder can move through the motions needed to properly throw a ball, including external rotation and shoulder blade movement (raise and rotate upward).

Reach your opposite arm behind your low back and move the back of your hand up to touch your shoulder blade. This checks to see if your shoulders can internally rotate and if you can pull your shoulder blade back (retract and rotate downward), which is important for stabilizing the joint.

If you have difficulty touching your shoulder blade, feel tightness or even pain on either test, then your mobility must be improved.

Mobility Screen: Apley Scratch Test

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Stability Screen: Single-Arm Push-Up Position Hold Test
Assume Single-Arm Push-Up position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your opposite arm directly out to the side. Hold the position for 30 seconds without shifting your weight, dropping your hips or losing stability in your supporting shoulder.

This test assesses the strength of the shoulder-stabilizing muscles. If you fail to support your body for the specified time or sense pain, you need to improve your shoulder stability. If you can’t support your own bodyweight, how will your joint handle throwing a fastball or even landing from a fall? The results likely won’t be good.

Stability Screen: Single-Arm Push-Up Position Hold Test

Repeat both tests on each side of your body to assess balance and symmetry. Notice how well you performed on each test. Were you able to accomplish every goal? Did both shoulders yield equal results? If not, you have to address the issues with mobility and stability workouts, which I will cover in a future article. Check back soon for Part 2 of my series.

Photo:  ordinary-joe-muscle-building.com

Jon DeMoss, co-founder of Synergy Athletic Performance in Dallas, is a strength and conditioning coach who specializes in working with rotational sport athletes. He also assists high school, collegiate and professional athletes to reach their potential and excel in their sports. DeMoss is CSCS- and USAW-certified, and he holds a bachelor's degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas.

Topics: SHOULDERS
Jon DeMoss
- Jon DeMoss, co-founder of Synergy Athletic Performance in Dallas, is a strength and conditioning coach specializing in rotational sport athletes. DeMoss also assists high school,...
Jon DeMoss
- Jon DeMoss, co-founder of Synergy Athletic Performance in Dallas, is a strength and conditioning coach specializing in rotational sport athletes. DeMoss also assists high school,...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Tommy John Surgery 10 Times More Common Than a Decade Ago

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

The Best Exercises for Preventing a Groin Pull

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

4 Exercises to Fix Bad Posture and Help You Move Better

3 Ways to Protect Your Knees and Prevent ACL Injuries

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

Does Loss of Sleep Have Same Effects as Sports Head Injuries?

Why Your Shin Splints Aren't Really Shin Splints

The New Rules for Cryotherapy: Why You're Icing Wrong

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

How to Train With Shin Splints

How Cristiano Ronaldo Can Defeat the Witch Doctor's Curse

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke This Summer

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

How to Avoid Softball Pitching Injuries

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

Maintaining Your Lower-Body Strength After Tommy John Surgery

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Will Joel Embiid Be Able to Succeed in the NBA?

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

Keys to Preventing Groin Injuries in Hockey