As you’ve probably already noticed, our Arise Physical Therapy video series has Justin teaching us about overhead mobility. Our previous blogs have outlined aspects of each video in the series but let's look at overhead mobility as a whole. If you have the ability to move your arms and shoulders overhead without any restriction or pain, you’re doing O.K. However, many people struggle with overhead mobility, and this can lead to limitations in their fitness routines and daily activities.
So, what exactly is overhead mobility, and why is it important? Overhead mobility refers to the ability to move your arms and shoulders in a full range of motion above your head, without any discomfort or pain. It's an essential movement pattern that we use in many everyday activities such as reaching for objects on high shelves or putting something away in a high cupboard. In addition, many exercises in the gym require overhead mobility, such as overhead presses, pull-ups, and snatches. The lack of overhead mobility can be caused by several factors, including poor posture, a lack of flexibility, and muscle imbalances. If you're someone who spends most of your day sitting at a desk, chances are your posture is not ideal, which can lead to tight chest muscles and weak upper back muscles. These imbalances can limit your overhead mobility.
But don't worry, there are ways to improve your overhead mobility! The first step to improving your overhead mobility is to assess your current level. You can do this by simply standing with your back against a wall and trying to touch your arms overhead to the wall. If you can't reach the wall without arching your back or bending your arms, then you have limited overhead mobility. To improve your overhead mobility, you need to focus on stretching your tight muscles and strengthening your weak muscles. This can be achieved through a combination of mobility exercises and resistance training which you would have already practiced during the series. Let’s go over 3 exercises from week 1 of our series to help you get started on your overhead mobility journey.
Release your shoulder - Take a lacrosse ball and find a wall. Put your shoulder against the wall, then reach the same arm across to your opposite shoulder. Place the lacrosse ball in your armpit area between your shoulder and the wall. Move the ball around against the wall until you find a tender spot. Leave it in the tender spot for 1-2 minutes. Keep your arm crossed and roll the ball along to your shoulder blade, finding another 2 or 3 tender-spots. Repeat on the opposite side.
Release your lats - Lay on a foam roller, on your left side ribcage, using your arm as support in front of the foam roller. Roll it along your side until you find a tender spot and leave it there for 1-2 minutes
Pec Stretch - Using the foam roller, lay on your back with the roller(long-ways) in the center. Ensuring your head is supported by the foam roller, reach both arms out with your elbows bent. Move your arms up or down along the ground until you find a comfortable position where you can feel a nice stretch along your chest. Remain in this position for 1-2 minutes. You can then proceed to move your arms higher as you slowly release your pecs.
To Conclude Overhead mobility is an essential aspect of functional fitness and overall health. If you're struggling with limited overhead mobility, don't give up! By incorporating some mobility exercises and resistance training into your routine, you can improve your overhead mobility and reach your fitness goals. Remember to be patient and consistent, and you'll be reaching for those high shelves in no time.
Below is week 1 of our series where Justin introduces the first steps to improving your overhead mobility