I’ve been working on improving my shoulder posture for years. I really want to improve my posture – not just because it looks better, but because it will improve my performance in CrossFit, and reduce my chance of injury. The clean, the snatch, toes to bar, overhead pressing, anything with kipping… All these movements put a great deal of stress on the shoulder joint. When your posture is poor, the stress of the shoulder is increased dramatically, as is the potential for injury.
I’ve made some decent improvements on my own, but I realized if I was going to make it to the next level, I was going to have to find some help. And so enter David Veenstra, RMT. I had heard great things about him, and I finally made an appointment. My first treatment was today, and I was not disappointed! The treatment itself was fantastic, and I felt dramatically better afterwards. He spent a lot of time explaining which exercises I could do at home to help fix my issues and why I needed them. It is this focus on self treatment that I really appreciate. I have been studying mobility and anatomy for many years, and take it from me, Dave really knows his stuff!
I put together a routine based on Dave’s recommendations that I plan to do at least 3x a week:
My 45 Minute Shoulder Posture Fix Routine
1 – Pec minor lacrosse ball smash: 2 rounds of 2 minutes per side. I attempt to tack my pec in place on the ball, and then I work my arm through the range of motion – starting in internal rotation at the bottom and working up to externally rotated at the top (see below), and also just wherever it feels like it needs it. Dave reminded me that I intuitively know where and how I need to do this. The spot to place the ball to hit the pec minor is right in the groove under the collar bone. I actually used a baseball, as combined with the soft rug the lacrosse ball was a bit too soft.
2 – Pec minor gravity stretch, 20 minute goal: Placing a rolled up towel under my spine, I let my shoulders drop to the side and just relax. This one feels great for me, and I found that I could stretch various different areas by changing my arm position. Dave also let me know that 20 minute was just the goal, that if my hands started to go numb or if I started to get tingling sensations then it was probably time to call it a day.
3 – Shoulder Capsule Mobilization: Holding a dumbbell with the arm locked, let the weight push the humerus into the back of the shoulder. I spend some time in internal and external rotation, and turning back and forth. This is a really good one for shoulder impingement as well, as here we are trying to loosen up the tissue in the back of the joint to try and regain a bit of space in the joint (between the head of the humerus and the acromian). I’ve found that if I roll slightly toward the weight I can feel it more in the back of the shoulder.
4 – Banded distraction: (2 rounds of 2 minutes per side) Banded stuff always feels really good for me, and I like this one. Note that I put my arm behind my back and use the other arm to pull it up or away to increase the stretch. Dave taught me a new trick here on how to use a door jamb with a heavy band. Blew my mind! I wrapped the band around a towel and then closed the door on it. Fantastic! I added my three favorite banded stretches afterwards that always help me – the pec, the lat and the overhead tricep.
5 – Roll out the lats. (I’ll add some pics later)
Last, he reminded me to be aware of my shoulder position when performing any exercises in the box or the gym. If I find myself doing an exercise and my shoulders are starting to round forward, I have to stop and reset, and train that correct position to make sure I’m not reinforcing bad movement patterns.
I am also suddenly aware of how my posture is all the time, and making sure to get that shoulder back into a better position whenever I can. Sitting at the computer right now typing, and using the mouse with my right arm, I am in a very bad position – so I’m wrapping this up and getting off the computer!
I made a very quick posture video in the summer “Instantly Improve Your Posture! Hips Shoulders and Neck” with some reminders of what to be mindful of throughout the day. Turn the abs on, flex your glutes, extend the t-spine, externally rotate at the shoulder, and pull that head up!