2016 – What a year it’s been for us! We read every comment and message – your continued support and interaction means the world to us. Without further ado, here are our Top 6 Posts of 2016! Hope you enjoy!
Serratus Anterior Swiss Ball Wall Push
If you don’t know the importance of scapular stability by now, then look back at our previous shoulder posts! A weak serratus anterior can lead to poor scapulo-humeral rhythm (click here for more info) and shoulder impingement.
Here is a great way to stabilize and strengthen the entire shoulder girdle including–but not limited to–the rotator cuff muscles and the serratus anterior.
To perform this exercise properly:
- Set yourself up with feet hip width apart and one arm supported on the Swiss Ball in front of you. Push your shoulder blade away (protract your scapula) and walk back until you feel that it is a good challenge for your shoulder musculature. The farther you walk back, the higher the demand. Also, going up on your toes will increase the load you push into the Swiss ball with your supporting arm.
- You can maintain this position for time, or to add a dynamic component, begin performing circles with the swiss ball clockwise and counterclockwise. I typically like to perform this for 10 repetitions each direction per arm for 3 sets. If you want an additional challenge bend your elbow just a little bit to activate your triceps as well.
CAUTION: make sure to AVOID scapular internal rotation or allowing the scapula to appear as though it is sticking out. This can occur if this exercise exceeds your capacity. If so, march your feet closer to the ball.
Note: To make this exercise even MORE functional, you can rotate your body 30 degrees away from your stabilizing arm (for this video I would rotate to the left). This puts your shoulder in the SCAPTION plane allowing for more optimal muscle length of the shoulder stabilizers thus increasing their activity.
Lower Extremity Neurotension
Here is a shoe-string model I designed for the visual learner (like myself) to help understand neurotension. Be sure to turn your sound on as I explain movements at the ankle and which nerves are put on tension.
As a clinician, you want to rule in and rule out what anatomy is involved in a patient’s presentation. It’s important to understand neurodynamics and positions that can cause neurotension. Neurodynamics is the physical movement of nerves. However, it is important to note nerves are not like shoe strings, but rather dental floss! Nerves do not stretch: they can slide or get tensioned. Nerves need oxygen and blood flow just like the rest of our body. If you happen to sit on your foot and it ‘falls asleep’ or feels like ‘pins and needles’ it’s because you may be compressing some nerves and limiting oxygen and/or blood flow!
Maria Sharapova, the former world #1 women’s tennis player, has had quite the remarkable career. However, she has had to battle through a host of well-documented shoulder injuries that hampered her career early on. Rumor has it that this exercise in particular helped REHAB and PREHAB her shoulder back to health. Thus why it is aptly named “Sharapovas.”
I absolutely LOVE this exercise for prehabing my shoulders. It’s an absolute rotator cuff killer that hits the infraspinatus and teres minor isometrically, concentrically, and eccentrically.
HOW TO PERFORM: Keep your elbows and hands against the wall. Maintain tension in the Theraband the ENTIRE TIME. As you move one arm up (right hand for example), ensure that your other hand is anchored and doesn’t move. This will isometrically challenge your left rotator cuff. As you move your right hand up, move it in a curved “C” pattern. This allows you to eccentrically, and then concentrically, challenge the right rotator cuff. I like to shoot for 3 “in and outs” per side on the way up, and then 3 more on the way back down. Thats 1 rep. I shoot for 5 reps before taking a break.
A similar exercise (Castelein et al 2015) was found to decrease upper trapezius and pectoralis minor activation, while increasing middle trapezius, lower trapezius, and rhomboid activation.
Brueggers to Improve Posture
DO THIS EXERCISE TO IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE!! As you’re reading this post, you’re probably in a very similar position as I am – slouched over, forward head, protracted scapula, shoulder forward and up, arms in, flexed wrist/fingers. It’s not your fault – it’s a comfortable position! However, the body is meant to MOVE and change positions throughout the day – so get on it! I love Brueggers for the following reasons:
- They work on all the phasic muscles that help with postural control, including all the mid-scapular stabilizers. By activating all these muscles, the goal is to “turn down” the activity of the tonic and overactive upper traps, pectoralis muscles, and neck extensors via reciprocal inhibition.
- They get your sitting upright! Feel the stretch in your anterior chest and what it’s like to sit up tall.
- The hand wrap allows those with lateral epicondylitis aka tennis elbow to work on their scapular stabilizers without excessive wrist extensor action. If you have a labor intensive job, prehab your elbow and work on proximal strengthening of the scapula while giving your common extensor origin a break. Perform Brueggers 10x per hour with 5 second holds and that should do the trick!
Modified Bear Crawl
The bear crawl is an excellent exercise to challenge dynamic core stability. When we say core stability, we are talking about the ability to control the torso, which dictates spinal movement. We want to limit the spine from moving excessively during any movement whether it’s flexion, extension, or rotation. Too much spinal movement under heavy loads can result in compensation! Compensation can lead to tissue overuse and injury. Building a stable core is a fundamental prerequisite to lifting heavier weight safely and effectively.
The bear crawl is also a great exercise because it helps with body awareness. Proprioception (knowing where your joints are in space) is considered another sense of the body, just like smell and taste! Having a good sense of body awareness is key in helping maintain proper form during lifts and exercises.
Try out this modified, regressed version of the bear crawl. Although a regression, I love this version because it is great for individuals with poor scapular stability. Scapular dyskinesia (poor scapular stability) is typically more of a dynamic movement dysfunction, rather than static. The best part about bear crawls is that they are not just a static CKC exercise, but also a dynamic one! Utilizing sliders, the exercise becomes a continuous closed-kinetic-chain (CKC) exercise for the upper body. If you perform this movement long enough, the scapular stabilizers will be challenged under endurance conditions. These are ideal parameters because we want these muscles to do their job all day long when we go about our lives.
The suboccipital muscles (which include Rectus capitis posterior major, rectus capitis posterior minor, obliquus capitis inferior, and obliquus capitis superior) are 4 small muscles located right below the base of the skull/occiput of the head. They each run at different angles connecting the top two vertebrae to the skull and to each other.
Trigger points are often seen within the subboccipitals in people who have whiplash injuries, forward head posture, emotional tension, or postural stress. When these muscles are triggered, you may feel pain that extends from the back of the head to the eye/forehead. These types of headaches will typically only hurt on one side of the head.
The three upper suboccipitals on each side will primarily control upper cervical nodding/tilting. When they are afflicted with trigger points, this nodding motion can be limited. The lowest of the suboccipitals, obliquus capitis inferior, connects the top two vertebrae (C1 and C2). This is where most of the rotation of the head occurs. When this muscle is triggered, one’s neck rotation may be limited and/or produce sharp neck pain with rotation of the neck.
Here I demonstrate how to release the suboccipitals with a peanut.
- First, I find my suboccipitals right below my occiput and place them on the peanut. Then I begin to take the muscles through they’re available range by passively chin tucking, thus inducing flexion of the upper cervical spine.
- Second, I move the ball slightly inferiorly and begin to passively rotate my neck to target the oliquus capitis inferior. Notice how I can passively go through the range with assistance of my hand as well as actively flex and rotate my neck.
Note: There are important neurovascular structures such as the vertebral artery and suboccipital nerve that exit the suboccipital triangle. Therefore, it is important for these muscles to have flexibility so there is no impingement on these structures.
Website Lauch Hype Video!
We hope you enjoyed our top 6 posts of 2016. We are looking forward to continuing this movement together in 2017!!