Inability to recover the overhead position?

Discussion in 'Flexibility, Mobility, and Movement' started by J Way, Sep 26, 2019.

  1. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    Hello! I've been struggling to fix a shoulder mobility issue on my own. I've used a mobility routine recommended to me by a Strong First trainer to improve my shoulder mobility, and this involves foam rolling, the pump stretch, and kettlebell armbars. I've also tried to read up on the subject of mobility and improve my posture and greatly reduce the amount of strength training I do to target improving my mobility. The problem is that I'm spending hours and hours a week doing these mobility movements and I'm seeing very little results. I spend as much as two hours some days just doing different tissue smashing, stretching, etc., and while I see improvement immediately afterwards, the next day I'm back to the same elbow fault and shoulder rotation fault (shoulders rolled forward), especially if work puts me in a crunch and I can't do kettlebell arm bars that day, or if I do literally any get ups at all. I did simple and sinister twice this week after my mobility warm up, and I'm very week in the get up and quite tight afterwards.

    At this point I'm getting flabby and weak and quite depressed by the time this is forcing me to take off training. It's been months since I've been able to train regularly--I haven't run a full cycle since June. I'm at the point of frustration and of giving up altogether. Any advice would be hugely appreciated.
  2. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Can you press overhead - kettlebell/barbell/dumbbell? If you can press overhead without pain or problem, I'd say just do a pressing program and get stronger. If you strength train your muscles in increased rage of motion, your mobility will improve.
  3. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    I cannot press the kettlebell with my arm vertical and against my ear as detailed in ETK. I have no pain but I my arm just doesn’t do that unless I spend a lot of time smashing and flossing my tissues beforehand.

    I might be able to floss and smash and pressure wave for a while, but it will greatly reduce the day’s a week I can press to maybe one or two. Should I just do that from now on?
  4. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Well, I don't want to go against another trainer's advice, but personally I don't floss/smash/foam roll or even stretch at all anymore, unless it feels good in the moment. Not at all as a routine or preventive measure. I don't believe there's any proof of improved training outcomes from it, and you seem to have a negative training outcome from replacing your strength training with these activities in your limited time. So, may be time for a different approach. Maybe resume pressing, try different movement prep routines (5 minutes or less) to see if it helps your press groove and overhead position, try hanging from a bar for a few minutes on some days, and see if you see improvements. You could also post a form check of your press.
  5. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    I’ll try to take a video tomorrow morning and upload it here. Thanks for your advice!
    Anna C likes this.
  6. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    +1 for video. It doesn't have to be a perfect overhead position for you to be able to use it, and learn how to manage it to improve both your strength and your flexibility.

  7. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    . Here’s a video I just took with the lightest kettlebell I own. I’m noticing that if I lock out my elbow, my shoulder usually unpacks.
  8. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    I’ve found that if I do kb armbars before attempting the press it grooves much better, and I can lockout with a packed shoulder. I’m thinking now that I’m going to run a PTTP-style step cycle with the KB press starting with a very light kettlebell in the mornings, and then run the Vodka and Pickles routine three times a week for my pulling routine.
  9. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    @JWay it's hard to tell what's going on, but almost looks like you're not pressing all the way. Let your shoulder go where it needs to go in order to extend your elbow all the way. Use the lats. Use the triceps. Grip the handle hard. Press hard.

    Why use a "very light kettlebell"? Use a weight that's challenging, but you are able to press overhead.

    You could run a cycle of something if you want to, but just getting in some 5x5 volume 2 or 3 times a week for a few weeks would probably make some good progress.
    J Way likes this.
  10. John Spezzano

    John Spezzano Triple-Digit Post Count Team Leader Certified Instructor Elite Certified Instructor

    Press mechanics and bell path aside, I agree with @Anna C that it looks like you're not pressing all the way. Your elbow should extend simultaneously as your shoulder opens and both joints should reach full ROM at the same time at the end of your press. Right now it looks like your elbow stops extending about 4/5 of the way through your press and the remainder of the movement is made with the shoulder alone.

    My first question is can you completely straighten your elbows and can you do so without pain? For example, if you hung from a pull up bar would your elbows go straight or be bent like they are at the top of your press?

    Stay strong, my friend!
    J Way likes this.
  11. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    If I hang from a bar, my shoulders are fine and my elbows extend. I’m just confused by the whole elbow packing point that is in ETK and S&S. If I can do whatever it takes to straighten the elbow in the press without running a serious risk of injury, then I’m down with that.
  12. John Spezzano

    John Spezzano Triple-Digit Post Count Team Leader Certified Instructor Elite Certified Instructor

    If you're not experiencing pain when you hang from the bar you can work some drills on it to help you fire what needs to fire.

    1) Passive hang with straight elbows - Exactly like it sounds, just hang from the bar and let your elbows fully extend. After this feels comfortable, add an active pushing away from the bar to more closely replicate the press. Don't worry about the shoulders just yet.

    2) Active hang with packed shoulders - Hang on the bar passively and then "anti-shrug" your shoulders to create distance between them and your ears. This will teach you how to engage your lats in the overhead position. Don't worry about the elbow extension just yet, focus on the lat engagement.

    3) Active hang with packed shoulders and extended elbows - Let's put them together. Same as #2 but now while maintaining the lat engagement, actively push yourself away from the bar to fully extend your elbows. Be sure to not lose the shoulder packing when you extend the elbows.

    4) If #3 is a bridge too far right now you can also use an appropriately high box or bench to stand on under the bar. Now rather than hanging from the bar you will grab the bar while standing on the box/bench. Use this assisted position to make pushing yourself away from the bar (to extend the elbows) while packing the shoulders (to engage the lats) easier to accomplish.

    It might actually be easier for you to try #4 before #3.

    Hope this helps!
    J Way likes this.
  13. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    Thanks, I’ll try this out!
  14. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    Doorframe drills are a good tool.
    Stand under a low doorframe or step up on a footstool to where the doorframe is about even with your lockout. Use the doorframe to push your clavicle ad shoulder joint down - if the collarbone is staying more or less in the same orientation as it started, you're not going to get any more packed than that.
    J Way likes this.

Share This Page