Best Exercises for Shoulder Pain

Best Exercises for Shoulder Pain

Best Exercises for Shoulder Pain

If you are struggling with shoulder aches and pains or recurring shoulder injuries, then this article is for you. When it comes to being strong at the push and pull movement patterns such as the bench press, pull-up, push-up, dumbbell row, or any other movement that involves the shoulders, it is imperative to have adequate shoulder mobility and strength.

Many people injure their shoulders with the above listed movements. And it is not because the movements are “bad” exercises. It is because these people are not prepared for the exercises they are performing. Their muscles and joints are not prepared for the exercise, or the combination of exercises at hand.

  • Injury = demands placed on tissues > tissue capacity
  • Rehab = demands placed on tissues < or = tissue capacity
  • Prevention = tissue capacity >> demands placed on tissues

Taking a quick look at the above equations should really shed light on how injuries and aches/pains occur. However, just “getting strong” and building tissue capacity is not enough. You must train smart and through your entire ranges of motion. You cannot just get strong in one part of your range of motion and expect to be strong in other parts of that range. That is just not how our body works. Strength is angle specific.

So to really mitigate your chance of injury, you must make sure you have full ranges of motion in your joints. Secondly, you must create strength, control, and stability throughout all of those ranges of motions. This is the recipe for bulletproofing your shoulders and overcoming your shoulder pain.

Here are 5 of our favorite shoulder exercises for combatting achy and painful shoulders, especially stubborn anterior shoulder pain.

1. Sleeper Stretch for Shoulder Internal Rotation

Shoulder internal rotation is the most common shoulder joint range of motion lost. Normal range of motion for shoulder internal rotation is 70-90 degrees. Having a lack of this internal rotation range of motion puts your shoulder at a greater risk for injury. This range of motion is necessary for various movements and without it, compensations often occur throughout the shoulder girdle. Most commonly seen is tipping/dumping of the shoulder blade forwards, compromising the anterior structures of the shoulder joint. This is especially true in vertical pulling exercises such as the barbell clean.

PRO TIP: The sleeper stretch is often criticized, but when executed properly and safely, it is a phenomenal exercise to normalize shoulder internal rotation. Do not push through pain or pinching with this exercise. You should only feel a deep stretch on the outer part and back part of your shoulder.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 rounds 3-4 days/week. This is a safe exercise to perform in your warm-ups prior to upper body pushing or pulling days.

2. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder External Rotations

Those with anterior shoulder pain often have “weak” or under-trained shoulder external rotators. Relatively speaking, most training programs do not implement much (or any) accessory training exercises for the shoulders. They target the large prime movers of the shoulders, but neglect the smaller shoulder stabilizers, especially the shoulder external rotators (the teres minor and infraspinatus). Seated dumbbell shoulder external rotations are a fantastic way to isolate these muscles and build strength and endurance. Go light with this exercise and do not use momentum to power through this exercise.

PRO TIP: Keep your elbow that is resting on your knee slightly lower than shoulder height. Do not push into any pain or pinching at any time during this exercise. Additionally, you can slowly lower the dumbbell to work on eccentrically stretching the posterior shoulder to improve shoulder internal rotation range of motion. At no time during this exercise should your shoulder blade tip/dump forwards (keep your shoulder blade stable and immobile).

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 rounds of 15-20 repetitions, 3-4 days/week. This exercise is safe to perform in your warm-up, during rest breaks in betweens sets/exercises, or on its own.

3. Banded Face-Pulls

The banded face-pull combats that nasty posture we all exhibit throughout the day, especially those of us that work desk jobs: internally rotated, adducted, and protracted shoulders with an overly flexed thoracic spine. By working the upper back and posterior shoulder with the banded face-pull, you are working on maintaining an upright/extended spine, while pulling your shoulders into external rotation, horizontal abduction, and retraction. As with all exercises, you should feel no pain or pinching with this.

PRO TIP: While pulling the band towards your face, also think about pulling the band apart horizontally. Keep your elbows high throughout and really focus on hammering your posterior shoulder and upper back. Go light with these. Again, we are working accessory movements and shoulder joint stabilizers, so we are training for endurance with this exercise.

PROGRAMMING: 4-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions, 3-4 days/week. This is a fantastic exercise to implement into your warm-ups to prep your shoulders for upper body days, or to superset with a heavy pushing exercise.

4. Band Pull-Aparts

Banded pull-aparts again are a great exercise to hammer the posterior shoulder and upper back musculature. They again help reverse that poor posture we all unfortunately exhibit by training shoulder external rotation, horizontal abduction, and scapular retraction. Hold on to the band in a supinated grip (palm facing upwards) to really target shoulder external rotation. From here, you can vary your grip width to make the exercise easier or harder. Pull the band apart only until it taps your chest. Slowly and controllably return to the starting position.

PRO TIP: Keep tension in the band at all times. Perform these slowly or you are short-changing yourself. There is no need to pull your arms back farther behind your back, just tap the band to your chest.

PROGRAMMING: 4-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions, 3-4 days/week. Like the banded face-pull, this is a fantastic exercise to utilize in your warm-ups or to superset with heavy pushing exercises.

5. Kettlebell Arm-Bar

The kettlebell arm-bar is fantastic for improving shoulder joint stability, especially reactive stability due to the offset weighted nature of the kettlebell. This exercise really works on maintaining shoulder joint centration (joint alignment/spacing from optimal co-contraction of all the shoulder joint stabilizer muscles). Once holding the kettlebell in this position becomes easier and more second-nature, you can add in axial shoulder joint rotations to further challenge your shoulder joint reactive stability.

PRO TIP: Do not go too heavy with this exercise. This is a common fault we see and contradicts the purpose of the exercise. Remember, we are training reactive stability and endurance of the shoulder joint, not brute strength.

PROGRAMMING: 3-4 sets of 5-6 repetitions, holding each repetition for 15-30 seconds. Perform 3-4 days/week. This is fantastic for prepping the shoulders in your warm-ups or performing it on its own.

There you have it! 5 of our favorite exercises to combat painful and achy shoulders.

As always, we do not recommend you taking this information as medical advice. Always consult with your doctor before implementing strengthening exercises or starting a training program. For optimal results, we recommend consulting with a qualified physical therapist or chiropractor who understands human movement and strength training. This is because musculoskeletal pain requires a thorough physical/movement-based assessment to identify your individual limitations and needs before specific rehab exercises are prescribed.

Frustrated with your painful or achy shoulders and have tried these exercises without much success? Reach out to us for help! We can even help find you a qualified healthcare professional to help you in your area.

Top 5 Thoracic Spine Mobility Exercises

Top 5 Thoracic Spine Mobility Exercises

Top 5 Thoracic Spine Mobility Exercises

Thoracic spine mobility is essential for the overhead athlete, anyone lifting overhead, and even the everyday person. Having adequate amounts of thoracic spine mobility can help prevent nagging muscle and joint issues up and down the kinetic chain. Frequently, a lack of thoracic spine mobility (especially thoracic extension) can lead to shoulder pain and impingement.

Here are our top 5 thoracic spine mobility exercises (in no particular order).

1. Downward Dog

The downward dog is a phenomenal thoracic extension mobility exercise that is underutilized. It is a great drill to work on overhead shoulder flexion, thoracic extension, and shoulder strength all at the same time. This should be a pain-free exercise and should not cause any pinching in the back part of your shoulder joint.

PRO TIP: To really get the most out of this exercise, really work on pressing your hands through the ground, pushing your chest away from your hands. At the same time, use your thoracic paraspinals (the muscles that run along your upper back) to pull your spine into more extension.

PROGRAMMING: 15-20 repetitions holding each rep for 2-3 seconds, 3-4 days/week

2. Brettzel

The brettzel is one of the more complex thoracic spine mobility exercises we utilize. It is definitely not for everyone as it may cause some pain/discomfort in some people’s lower back. If that is you, check out our other thoracic spine rotation stretch below that is less advanced.

PRO TIP: Do not push through any pain or discomfort with this exercise. Focus on your breathing. Prior to each repetition, take a deep breath and then fully exhale while pulling yourself into the stretch.

PROGRAMMING: 5-10 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

3. Elevated Prayer Stretch on Bench

The elevated prayer stretch is fantastic for improving thoracic spine extension while also working on shoulder flexion mobility. With this exercise, really focus on moving through your upper back in between your shoulder blades.

PRO TIP: Think about reaching your elbows off of the bench towards to ceiling while simultaneously pulling your chest closer to the ground. Really focus on using your thoracic spine paraspinals to extend your upper back. Do not jutt/push your neck forwards towards the ground.

PROGRAMMING: 10-15 repetitions holding each rep for 2-3 seconds, 3-4 days/week

4. Kettlebell Pullover on Foam Roller

This is a common thoracic spine mobility exercise commonly seen performed in the CrossFit world. Unfortunately, too many people perform this drill without much success because they execute it improperly. This is because when most people extend over the foam roller they let their ribcage flare upwards as well.

PRO TIP: Lock your ribcage down with your abdominals. Take a big diaphragmatic breath and brace your core 360 degrees. Maintain this stacked ribcage and pelvis position while extending your spine and pulling the kettlebell over the foam roller.

PROGRAMMING: 5-10 repetitions, 3-4 days/week

5. Thoracic Spine Rotation with Rib Pull

The thoracic spine rib pull in the sidelying position is one of our favorite exercises to improve thoracic spine rotation. The rib pull aids in more rotation in the upper back and the locking the knee to the foam roller helps eliminate movement from occurring in the lower back.

PRO TIP: Do your best to move only through your upper back in rotation. Squeeze your top knee into the foam roller to lock your lumbar spine down to prevent movement from occurring there. Prior to each repetition, take a deep breath and fully exhale while rotating and pulling your ribcage to the ground. As with all exercises, this should not be painful.

PROGRAMMING: 10-15 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

And there you have it, our top 5 thoracic spine mobility exercises!

If you continue to not have any luck with your thoracic spine mobility after diligently following these exercises, then reach out to a qualified healthcare/movement professional. Mobility exercises should be individually prescribed to you and your needs, especially if there is pain or discomfort involved.

If you need assistance finding a physical therapist or chiropractor who understands movement and strength & conditioning locally, then reach out to us. We’re happy to help you!

Top 5 Shoulder Mobility Exercises

Top 5 Shoulder Mobility Exercises

Top 5 Shoulder Mobility Exercises

Poor shoulder mobility is one of the most common mobility restrictions we see, second to poor hip mobility. While shoulder mobility is definitely of utmost importance for overhead athletes and overhead lifting, it is also extremely important for the everyday person. In fact, a lack of shoulder mobility can lead to issues up and down the kinetic chain, in particularly neck and mid-back pain.

Unfortunately, we see far too many athletes, weekend warriors, and everyday gym-goers waste their precious time foam rolling and performing drills that only result in temporary neurological changes in their shoulder mobility. We do not want temporary changes. We want long-term changes. Changes that translate into our everyday lives and improve our performance and lifting. Thus, the exercises we perform should provide these benefits.

If you want these long-term changes that translate into improved long-term mobility, performance, and pain-relief, the exercises should be active in nature. These 5 shoulder mobility exercises are active mobility exercises that will take you to the next level.

1. Shoulder Internal Rotation Sleeper Stretch

The sleeper stretch has been around for quite some time and is often demonized by some healthcare and rehab professionals for its “safeness” and effectiveness. However, with the proper set-up and execution of the exercise, the sleeper stretch is an extremely safe shoulder mobility exercise to utilize to improve the mobility of your posterior shoulder joint capsule. The sleeper stretch will not only improve your shoulder internal rotation, but will also improve your overhead mobility (shoulder flexion).

If you lack of shoulder flexion, and also lack shoulder internal rotation, this is the place to start. Work on improving your shoulder joint capsule mobility and your overhead positioning often clears up.

PRO TIP: Do not push into any pain or pinching with this stretch. You should feel the stretch in the posterolateral part of your shoulder. You should not feel anything in the front of your shoulder. The isometric contractions within this exercise are the game-changer and provide strength in your newly acquired range of motion. These isometric contractions provide the long-term changes in your shoulder internal rotation mobility.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

2. Shoulder External Rotation Americana Stretch

The Americana stretch, like the sleeper stretch, is one that you must execute safely and properly to get the benefits you are looking for. When done properly, it is one of our favorite drills to improve shoulder external rotation by working on the anterior shoulder joint capsule.

Again, if you have a lack of shoulder flexion and external rotation mobility, then this is the place for you to start. Target the shoulder joint capsule and overhead positioning often improves.

PRO TIP: Do not push into any pain or pinching with this stretch. You should feel a stretch in the anterior shoulder. You should not feel any pain or pinching in the back of your shoulder joint. As with the sleeper stretch, the isometric contractions are the game-changer to improve your shoulder mobility for the long-term.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions, 3-4 days/week

3. Elevated Prayer Stretch on Bench

The elevated prayer stretch on a weight bench works shoulder flexion mobility while simultaneously improving thoracic extension mobility. Both are pivotal for shoulder mobility and shoulder joint health for the overhead athlete, weightlifter, and everyday person.

PRO TIP: Do not push into any pain or pinching in the back of the shoulder or even in the spine. Really use your thoracic spine paraspinals (the muscles along your upper back) to pull yourself into extension. Do not shove or jut your neck forwards, keep it in line with the rest of your spine.

PROGRAMMING: 12-15 repetitions, holding at the bottom for 2-3 seconds, 3-4 days/week

4. Scapular Joint Circles

Abnormal scapular rhythm, or a lack of scapular control altogether can greatly affect your shoulder mobility. In fact, too many people still adhere to the “keep your shoulder blades down & back” myth that is plaguing the fitness world. Your shoulder blades HAVE TO MOVE and upwardly rotate for you to achieve full shoulder flexion that is pain-free. Working on controlling your scapulae by rotating them around your ribcage in open and closed-chain positions will help you get some movement and motor control back into your scapulae.

PRO TIP: Make sure you are only moving your scapulae around on your ribcage. Do not substitute thoracic spine flexion for shoulder blade protraction. Also, keep your elbows locked out/straight during the entire exercise.

PROGRAMMING: 10-12 joint circles in each direction in both open & closed-chain positions, 5-6 days/week

5. Shoulder Joint Circles

Ever wonder why you have to stretch to regain ranges of motion in the first place? Likely because you “overuse” one part of your range of motion and “underutilize” the opposing ranges of motion. For example, we often take our hands in front of us and overhead (shoulder flexion), but when is the last time you took your heads to your sides and reached straight back and upwards as far as you could (shoulder extension)? If you have not used your shoulder extension range of motion in 6 months, 5 years, or 20+ years, why would you expect to still have that range of motion?

Shoulder joint circles are a great way to not only maintain your shoulder joint ranges of motion, but also work on expanding and strengthening the outer limits of those ranges.

PRO TIP: This is something that should be done daily to remind your brain and body that you have access to all of these ranges of motion. If you do not use them, you lose them. Make sure you are not just haphazardly going through the motions; create tension throughout your entire arm and fight through your ranges of motion.

PROGRAMMING: 10-12 joint circles in each direction, 5-6 days/week

6. BONUS: Supine Kettlebell Pullover

The supine kettlebell pullover is one of our favorite shoulder mobility exercises for a couple reasons: 1) the movement is an eccentric-dominant one that really elongates the tissues while simultaneously building strength & mobility and 2) it incorporates core strength/stability and really hammers the core-shoulder-connection in the overhead position.

PRO TIP: Perform the kettlebell pullover with a properly pressurized and braced core. Slowly pull the bell over your head as far back as you can, stopping before your back starts to arch off of the ground. Each eccentric pullover should be at least 3-5 seconds in duration.

PROGRAMMING: 5-10 repetitions, 3-4 days/week

And there you have it, 6 of our top favorite shoulder mobility exercises.

As always, if you continue to have trouble improving your shoulder mobility after diligently utilizing these exercises, then reach out to a qualified healthcare professional who understands movement, mobility, and strength training. Again, none of these exercises should cause any pain at anytime. If you need help finding a local physical therapist or chiropractor, or you want to schedule an online consultation with us, send us an email. We are happy to help!

10 Exercises to Improve Your Hip Mobility

10 Exercises to Improve Your Hip Mobility

10 Exercises to Improve Your Hip Mobility

Have you ever asked someone what the “tightest” region of their body is? We ask this every day and we commonly hear the same response: “My hips.”

The hips seem to always be the most common “tight” area of the body. And these same individuals always seem to blame their hip flexors and hamstrings as the culprit or their tight hips. Most of the time, however, we debunk that their hip flexors and hamstrings are the true cause of their hip tightness. But that is not to say that they do not still have tight hips.

When your hips are “tight” (for whatever reason), your body must compensate to gain mobility from another region of the body. Our bodies are great compensators. Unfortunately, these compensations can lead to musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, such as low back pain.

As you can imagine, hip mobility is largely important for overall health and wellbeing. It is especially important for safe training in the weight room and maintaining our joint health and integrity over our lifespans.

Hip mobility and hip tightness can be improved in several ways. Unfortunately, the most common way that hip tightness is tackled is through pure static stretching. While static stretching may improve your hip stiffness, realize it is just one of many options. And in our book, it is not your best option.

So what is the best way to improve your hip mobility/tightness/stiffness? Through active and dynamic strategies. Through exercises that open up your hips, build strength in your new ranges of motion, and create a lasting neurological change. You should not be after “quick fixes” or gimmicks that temporarily improve your hip mobility, only to be back at square one 2 hours later.

When the hips are intelligently assessed and a thorough mobility training program is created to address the true hip mobility limitations, mobility will not only be gained, but it will be maintained. Here are 10 of our favorite hip mobility exercises to open up your hips, eliminate stiffness, and rid your tightness for good (in no particular order).

1. 90/90 Hip Internal Rotation Stretch

This exercise is amazing for improving your hip internal rotation; it targets the deep hip musculature and the hip capsule, both of which limit hip internal rotation. You should feel this stretch on the outside lateral part of your hip.

PRO TIP: If you have any sort of pinching/pain in your anterior hip/groin region, change up your positioning in the exercise. This pinching is a closing angle joint pain and should be avoided at all costs. Do not compromise your joint health/integrity.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

2. 90/90 Hip External Rotation Stretch

This exercise is great at improving your hip external rotation and hip flexion simultaneously. If you tend to feel a large stretch or a lot of tightness in your gluteal region, this this is the exercise for you.

PRO TIP: Do not round through your spine during this exercise. Think about reaching your chest up and forwards while simultaneously pushing your front hip backwards.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

3. Adductor Rockback Mobilization

Adductor (groin) mobility is often neglected. Yet, it is a very common muscle group that is tight and lacks extensibility. Adequate adductor mobility is essential for every training methodology, especially for sprinting, playing hockey, and performing various lifts. Performing this exercise will improve your adductor mobility as well as improve your overall lumbopelvic motor control.

PRO TIP: Make sure your low back stays neutral throughout this mobilization. This ensures proper mobilization of the tissues and control of the lumbar spine. If you feel any pinching on the outer part of your hip, change up your position. You should only feel this stretch/mobilization on your inner thigh.

PROGRAMMING: 15-20 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

4. Frog Stretch

The frog stretch is another great adductor mobility exercise to target the adductor muscle group while simultaneously improving hip flexion. This exercise tends to be an intense one for the majority of people. You should not feel any pinching on pain on the anterior part of either hips, only a stretch deep in the inner thigh/adductors.

PRO TIP: Make sure your low back stays neutral throughout the exercise. Start by relaxing and deep breathing into the stretch for 1-2 minutes before performing the isometric contractions. If you feel any pinching/pain in your hip joints, change up your positioning. If you cannot eliminate the pain by changing up your positioning, then try this same technique/process in the bottom position of the adductor rockback mobilization.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

5. Couch Stretch

The couch stretch is an absolutely amazing mobility drill to improve hip extension by stretching the quadriceps and hip flexors. Depending on your experience level and overall mobility, your starting position for this exercise may vary (and that is totally fine).

PRO TIP: Do your best to posteriorly rotate your pelvis to elongate your quadriceps and hip flexors. You should not be over-extending/over-arching your lumbar spine. If this stretch is too intense, try a half-kneeling hip flexor stretch with the same technique/process as explained here.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

6. Supine Psoas March

The hip flexors again are one of the most commonly blamed muscle groups for tight hips. But all too often we find that the hip flexors are not actually “tight,” but rather they are “weak.” When muscles are weak, we often perceive them as tight and as such, think they need stretched. If you have been stretching your hip flexors with no luck for months or years and they still feel tight, then this exercise may be for you.

PRO TIP: Throughout this exercise your core should be pressurized and braced; your lumbar spine should not be moving throughout the movement. All movement should be occurring through the hips moving into flexion and extension.

PROGRAMMING: 10-12 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

7. World’s Greatest Stretch

This exercise does not just isolate the hips, but rather incorporates the hips, thoracic spine, and the shoulders. Regardless, it is an amazing exercise to incorporate into your warm-ups to improve your hip mobility while also getting some thoracic spine and shoulder mobility work in as well.

PRO TIP: Lunge out far enough with your front leg so that you feel a stretch in your trail leg’s hip flexors and quads. For the hamstring stretch, try to straighten your leg as much as possible, but do not injure yourself.

PROGRAMMING: 5-10 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

8. Hamstring Doorway Stretch

This one may seem like a common hamstring stretch as the set-up is very common. The execution is where the magic happens. The hamstring doorway stretch we love is an active mobility drill. Remember, we want to create long-lasting changes in our mobility. This requires building strength in our newly acquired ranges of motion. Enter the upgraded hamstring doorway stretch:

PRO TIP: Your back should stay relatively “flat” to the ground through the exercise. Do not try and put your leg straight up the wall and sacrifice your lower back positioning. Keep your leg straight throughout the exercise as well. Put in the work and you will gradually improve you hamstring mobility over time.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

9. Hip Airplanes

Many times “tight” hips are actually just our brain thinking that we need to stretch, when in reality we need more isolated control of our movement. We see this time and time again: people think they need to stretch, but have normal ranges of motion; what they lack is hip motor control and stability. Enter hip airplanes.

PRO TIP: Your spine should stay neutral throughout this exercise. If you need to hold onto an object to provide you with more stability, then use it and slowly progress away from relying on it. Stick Mobility sticks (or PVC pipes) are also an amazing tool to utilize to perform this exercise.

PROGRAMMING: 10-15 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

10. Hip Joint Circles

Again, “tight” hips may not actually be tight at all. Maybe you just need to work on end-range strength and control of all of your hip joint ranges of motion. Regardless of whether you need to work on improving your hip ranges of motion or not, these are great movements to utilize to maintain and expand your ranges of motion.

PRO TIP: Do your absolute best to eliminate movement in your spine, particularly your lumbar spine. You can place a tennis ball on your lower back to provide yourself with tactile feedback. If the ball falls off or moves a lot, you are using your lower back too much instead of your hip joint. With practice your motor control will improve and the movement of the ball on your back will decrease.

PROGRAMMING: 10-15 repetitions per side, 5-6 days/week

And there you have it! Ten of our favorite exercises to improve your hip mobility, stiffness, and tightness.

Remember, none of these exercises should cause any pain or pinching in your hips. If performing these exercises diligently as instructed and programmed above does not yield results over the next couple of months, we recommend seeking out a qualified healthcare professional who understands human movement and strength and conditioning.

5 Best Squat Mobility Drills

5 Best Squat Mobility Drills

5 BEST Squat Mobility Drills

We hear it all the time: “I’m not mobile enough to squat to parallel.” A lot of these same people then stop squatting altogether to focus on mobility work.

But guess what? With proper coaching and tweaking of your squat stance, many of these people are able to squat without the need for any mobility drills or exercises. And if solid coaching and tweaking of your squat stance does not change anything, then you still do not need to totally stop squatting altogether! If, however, you have pinching or pain when squatting and you cannot find a pain-free squat stance or a regression/lateralization of the squat exercise, then maybe you should stop squatting. For now.

So for those who have pain or pinching in the hip, what should they do?

This is where mobility work should be implemented. Not just any mobility work, but mobility work specific to the individual. This is why we always recommend getting your movement and joints assessed by a qualified healthcare practitioner…. So you are not just guessing what your mobility limitation is.

The 3 biggest things that we commonly see restricting squat depth and may contribute to pain/pinching while squatting are:

  1. Hip internal & external rotation mobility
    2. Ankle dorsiflexion mobility
    3. Adductor mobility

The five drills below help improve the mobility of the above three restrictions and can help improve your squat depth and may even fix your pain/pinching while squatting.

5 BEST Squat Mobility Drills:

1. 90-90 Hip Internal Rotation Stretch

Lack of hip internal rotation can limit squat depth and can definitely be correlated with hip pinching in the front/anterior part of your hip. If you have been working on hip internal rotation mobility without much luck, check out this video for solid tips or how to truly improve your hip internal rotation mobility for good.

PRO TIP: If you feel any sort of pinching in the anterior/inner hip area, then you need to change of your torso/hip/leg positioning. You should only feel a deep stretch in the musculature/hip capsule on the outer portion of your hip. The game-changer with this stretch is that it is an active mobility drill.

2. 90-90 Hip External Rotation Stretch

Lack of hip external rotation can also limit squat depth. If you tend to feel a large tightness/stretch sensation in your posterior hip/gluteal region at the bottom position of your squat, then this may be the exercise for you.

PRO TIP: Make sure you are not rounding through your spine when performing this stretch. Your spine should stay long. Think about reaching your chest upwards and forwards, while pushing your front hip backwards at the same time. Again, the game-changer with this stretch is that it is an active mobility drill.

3. Ankle Dorsiflexion Banded Mobilization with Isometric Contractions

If you do not have adequate ankle mobility, then this can definitely contribute to squat depth issues. And you best believe it is a common cause of anterior hip pinching at the bottom of the squat.

While there are plenty of ankle mobility exercises out there, this one combines them all together. You definitely do not have to do all parts of this exercise, but if you at least want to work on your ankle mobility via stretching your gastroc/soleus/achilles tendon, then perform just the active version of the calf stretch. Again, the game-changer is that this mobility drill is active.

PRO TIP: Keep your heel on the ground at all times during this stretch. Also, make sure your knee tracks over your second toe; do not let your knee cave inwards.

4. Adductor Rock Back Mobilization

Tight adductors are another common cause of squat depth issues and can also contribute to hip pain while squatting. If you have a lack of adductor extensibility/mobility, then your knees may be collapsing into excessive valgus and your lower back may even be dumping into flexion (the dreaded “butt wink”).

PRO TIP: Make sure your lower back stays flat/neutral throughout this mobilization. This position/exercise works on mobilizing the adductor muscles, but also improves lumbopelvic motor control.

5. Goblet Squat Prying

If you want to get better at squatting and improving the bottom position of your squat, then guess what? You need to spend time down there! The kettlebell (or dumbbell) goblet squat is a fantastic way to do this as it provides you with a counterbalance to keep your chest upright. Hold your squat at the bottom position only as long as you are able to maintain solid form. From here, you can add in adductor prying and hip internal and external rotation movements to loosen up the hips.

PRO TIP: Only squat down to your current pain-free depth in which you are able to maintain the natural lordotic/neutral curvature of your lumbar spine.

And there you have it! Our 5 BEST squat mobility drills to improve your squat depth and eliminate pinching in your anterior hip.

If you are still having issues with your squat depth or hip pain/pinching, you should optimize your squat stance. Remember, everyone has different hip anatomy and therefore, everyone should squat slightly different. And if changing up your squat stance does not seem to help, your best bet is to find a qualified healthcare practitioner who understands movement and strength training to help you and provide you with a thorough orthopedic/movement assessment.

Wrist Extension Mobility

Wrist Extension Mobility

OVERVIEW

Wrist pain…a very, very common complaint in those who strength/weight train. A lot of the times the solution is simple: more mobility.

But remember, mobility isn’t just about creating flexibility. It’s about normalizing joint ranges of motion as well as creating strength and control in all of those ranges of motion.

If you have wrist pain, especially when your wrist is loaded into extension, the first thing to look at is your passive range of motion. Can you passively pull your wrist into at least 90 degrees of extension? If you can, that’s great, but can you also actively pull it into 90 degrees of extension? If you can’t, then you don’t have full strength and control over all of your range of motion. That means you’re likely hanging out on more of your passive-type structures (your bones/joints and ligaments) instead of using your muscles.

So if you don’t have full passive range of motion in wrist extension OR full strength/active control over your wrist extension, this exercise is great for you!

Give it a shot! You should only feel a stretch on the front (forearm flexor) side of your forearm. You should not feel any pinching in your any of your wrist joints.

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