How to Keep Your Shoulders Healthy, Part 1: Mid-Back Mobility | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

How to Keep Your Shoulders Healthy, Part 1: Mid-Back Mobility

April 17, 2012

Must See Baseball Videos

With baseball season in full swing, you must pay close attention to your shoulders—especially if your position involves a lot of throwing, such as pitcher, catcher or shortstop. Constant throwing can cause your shoulder to become tight from overuse. If you don't address this issue, your shoulders could be more susceptible to injury, and you could land on the bench for an extended period of time.

Rotation Issues

When you throw, your shoulder internally rotates. To understand internal rotation, put your arms down at your sides with your palms facing forward. Turn your thumbs in toward your body to internally rotate your shoulders. If the structure that powers and supports this internal rotation becomes stiff or tight, you could suffer from shoulder impingement.

Shoulder impingement occurs when a tendon of the rotator cuff becomes inflamed and rubs against the bones, resulting in pain or damage. This injury will degrade your shoulder strength and upset your throwing mechanics, causing accuracy and velocity issues.

Improve Mid-Back MobilityScapula Diagram

When it comes to alleviating shoulder pain, athletes often focus on the symptom but not the cause. Shoulder impingement and a host of related issues can be avoided if you take a few simple measures, which I discuss below.

If you want to keep your shoulder healthy, focus on improving the mobility of your middle back. You might ask how mid-back mobility can help your shoulders. Next time you look in a mirror, move your arm and notice how your shoulder blades move. The scapula in the back directly acts on the shoulder.

Excessive throwing can cause shoulder issues, but poor posture can also degrade shoulder performance and cause problems. Fortunately, improving mid-back mobility requires only a few minutes each workout. Below are my recommended exercises. Perform them between sets during your upper-body workouts.

Foam Roll Thoracic Extension

  • Lie on ground and place foam roller beneath shoulder blades; keep knees bent and feet flat on ground
  • Place arms across chest, relax neck and tilt head back as far as possible
  • Inhale and extend arms overhead
  • Exhale and bring arms back to chest
  • Repeat arm movements for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 2x10-15

Quadruped Thoracic Rotation

  • Assume all-fours position
  • Place hand behind head, keeping elbow in line with hand
  • Rotate shoulders to touch elbow to opposite forearm; keep hips and core stable
  • Rotate in opposite direction so elbow is pointed toward ceiling
  • Repeat pattern for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 2×10-15 each side

Quadruped Reach-Through Hand Slide

  • Assume all-fours position
  • Place back of left hand on ground, rotate shoulders and reach to right as far as possible
  • Rotate shoulders and slide hand to left to return to start position
  • Perform in opposite direction
  • Repeat in alternating fashion for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 2×10-15 each side

Photo:  greenwichtime.com, rickolderman.com

Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS, is the head strength and conditioning coach at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa. He has authored numerous articles on a wide variety of topics, including injury prevention, nutrition and improving athletic performance.

Topics: BASEBALL | BACK | SHOULDERS
Joe Giandonato
- Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS, is the head strength and conditioning coach at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa. He has authored numerous articles on a...
Joe Giandonato
- Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS, is the head strength and conditioning coach at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa. He has authored numerous articles on a...
Must See
Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,306,936
Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick
Views: 17,549,302
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 3,962,253

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 135,407
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 14,586
Elite Performance With Mike Boyle: Train the Core While Standing Views: 311,611
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,221,618
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,105
How Greg Nixon Gets More 'Twerk' on the Track
Views: 950,576
Corey White's Off-Season Guide to Making Plays
Views: 1,396,869
Abby Wambach Will Do Whatever It Takes
Views: 2,814,024

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

The Importance of Recovery Workouts

Most peoplein gyms today will never reach their full athletic or strength potential. The thing they leave out of their strength and...

How Hockey Goalies Can Get More Flexible for a Better Butterfly

Go the Distance With This Baseball Yoga Warm-Up

Are Tight Hips Slowing You Down?

6 Thoracic Spine Exercises to Improve Mobility

Fundamentals of a Pre-Workout Warm-Up

Improve Your Balance with Stability Ball Exercises

How to Fix 4 Common Tight Areas in Your Body

You're Doing It Wrong: The Warm-Up

The Yoga Warm-Up for Basketball Players

Pre-Workout Warm-Up Steps You Can't Afford to Skip

Balance Exercises That Are Game-Changers

The Best Stretching Exercise for You

Pro Secrets, Revealed: The Perfect Workout Warm-Up

Reducing Tight Hamstrings without Stretching for Hockey Players

Flexibility for Cross Country From the Ground Up

These 9 Exercises Will Improve Your Hip Mobility

Add Warrior Poses to Your In-Season Training

Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises for a Safe, Effective Workout

Must-Have Additions to Your Baseball Stretching Routine

Find Your Effective Pregame Basketball Warm-Up

Dig Like a Pro: Exercises for Volleyball Mobility

Animal Flow Scorpion Reach for Injury Prevention

Green Bay Packers Discover Football's Fountain of Youth

Increase Your Flexibility Without Stretching

How to Release Muscle Knots and Trigger Points

Improve Your Squat With 6 At-Home Hip Flexor Mobility Exercises

Stay Pain-Free With These Advanced Stretches

3 Tips To Make Your Stretching Routine More Effective

Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises Done the Right Way

Mobility Training for Hockey Goalies

3 Yoga Twists to Keep You on the Field and Improve Your Game

Patrick Peterson's Yoga Workout

Why You Shouldn't Stretch 24 Hours Before a Game

Build a More Powerful Golf Swing With These Mobility Drills

Why and When You Need to Change Your Pre-Game Warm-Up Routine

Best Exercises for Improving Joint Mobility

The Ultimate Pitcher's Warm-Up: 4 Shoulder Exercises with Bands

The Most Important Muscle You've Never Heard Of

Pre-Match Warm-Ups that Will Improve Your Tennis Game

3 Exercises That Fix Common Baseball Hip Mobility Issues