A Quick Guide to Upper Back Strength & Shoulder Health

22 04 2014

Your shoulders take a beating.

Especially when your training partner knows 99 ways to hyper extend the joint to cause enough pain to make you tap before ligaments & tendons begin to tear or the joint becomes dislocated.

It’s not just your opponents attempts to submit you, but the general posture of a fighter that can stress the shoulder joint. Having a rounded (kyphotic for you anatomy nerds) upper back encourages the shoulder blades to “wing”, which stretches out the muscles in the mid and upper back region preventing then from doing their job.
And their job is to control the scapula (shoulder blade) whose job it is to keep the shoulder joint stable.

Poor scapula control leads to poor shoulder stability and a vastly increased risk of shoulder injury.

You must keep the upper back strong and get the muscles firing.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Joe DeFranco, but he’s one of the world’s top strength coaches and an influence of mine.
It’s through his work that I learned of an exercise called the handcuff drill. It’s the first drill featured in this clip:

The other exercises shown are also of great value for resetting the shoulders and strengthening the upper back, but the handcuff drill, being equipment free is one that should be added to your BJJ warm ups, in fact I feature it in the Fighting Back manual when I discuss how to warm up.

As part of your supplemental strength work for the upper back, there is a one drill that is a must.
It is the Inverted Row, ideally on rings or a TRX unit.

The Inverted Row is classed as an upper body horizontal pull. Which if you think of the direction of pull used most in your BJJ, it’s against an opponent to the front of you, so mostly horizontal.
But why this drill really works is that it is closed chain. That means your body is moving through space.

Using the rings allows the hands to rotate and move relatively free which will allow the scapula to retract as you pull and protract as you lower. Add a 2-3 second pause at the top of the pull and you’ll feel your rhomboid muscles scream for mercy!

Here’s a clip:

Shoulders are one of the most commonly injured joints across the athletic spectrum, but in a sport like grappling where it is actively attacked.
Take care of your upper back as a priority, your training efficacy and longevity will appreciate it.

As a wee bonus, here’s a video of European BJJ Champion Seb going through a conditioning set incorporating the Inverted Row:

 

Have you got your copy of Fighting Back yet?
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Regards

Dave Hedges
http://www.WG-Fit.com





Monday Mobility – Indian Clubs for Shoulder Health

30 09 2013

Your shoulders are probably fucked.

Whoa Dave!

It’s first thing on a Monday morning and you’re not only making blind accusations, but dropping F-bombs while you’re at it!?!?!?

Well. Tell me I’m wrong.

Tell me that you never have pain when you lift your arm, that your scapular flow across the rib cage unrestricted, that you can raise your arms fully overhead while in a flat footed squat.

Tell me you’re shoulders don’t internally rotate, that your pec minor isn’t as taught as a violin string.

Ok, maybe that’s just me.

But since I discovered the Indian club, my shoulders have never felt better. And it’s not just me. Many of my crew now come in early specifically to get their hands on the clubs before training.
All say their shoulders feel healthier, stronger and more flexible.

So today’s monday mobility is all about swinging the clubs, here’s a video:

 

 

When you buy a club, err on the lighter side. Remember, we are talking about mobility here. Yes, you can get heavy clubs, but they are a very different animal and require specific technical training before you even try swing them.
For mobility, the clubs I use are 2kg, and even these are too heavy for most, don’t be ashamed to drop as low as 2lb per club.
Do enough reps and you’ll feel the benefit, a deep warmth (or burning sensation) through the whole shoulder and forearm, a smoothing out of the shoulder and scapular motion and a feeling of traction as the weight of the club amplified by centrifugal force provides traction along the arm.

Enjoy.

 

Dave Hedges
http://www.WG-Fit.com

 





Warming Up the Upper Body with Indian Clubs

26 04 2013

The shoulders can be a touchy bit of our anatomy.
Very few go through an athletic career, or even just regular gym training, without some shoulder issues. I’ve certainly struggled from time to time.

Many of the issues can be prevented by ensuring we follow a balanced training program. Actually, scratch that, we should follow a deliberately UNbalanced training program in that we use our shoulders for more pulling actions than we do pushing actions.

But a few years ago I started hearing about theses magical things called Indian Clubs and how they can regrow missing limbs….

Actually, that’s a lie, I never read that. But much like the kettlebell, the sales and marketing people will have you believing that they are pure magic.
They’re not magic, but they are damn good.

The clubs are swung in circular motions. The centrifugal force gives a nice bit of traction through the shoulder joint stimulating the connective tissues and teasing out tightness. The circular action takes the shoulder through its natural ranges of motion and stimulates the rotator cuff in a relatively natural manner.

All in, since implementing the clubs in my upper body warm ups, my shoulders have never felt as good.

The following clip shows how I like to use them and the sequence I encourage my guys (especially the Kettlebell Sports Guys) to use them. It’s a demonstration, not a tutorial, so treat it as such and go out and find someone to show you the finer points.

The clubs I use are 2kg each, believe it or not, this is actually relatively heavy for clubs with many espousing the use of 2lb clubs. I also use the 7lb sledgehammer for a more strength emphasis.

Here’s the video:

Like I said, these are great for the old shoulder joints, but only if used correctly and with caution.

Enjoy your weekend and I’ll catch you all back here on Monday

Regards

Dave
http://www.wg-fit.com

 





Shoulder Health & Improved Posture

29 11 2009

Evolution

Take a look at the picture.

While it maybe humorous, it is alarmingly close to the truth (as all good humour is..)

The last image, the guy sat at the desk, hunched over a keyboard is how many of us spend 8 hours or more every day. Imagine the havoc that will play on your posture.

Now, ok, you go to the gym, but really is an hour in the gym going to undo 8 hours of sitting at desk? And is your program helping or is it hindering your progress?

I’m not going to go inot the ins and outs of program design here, but I will pass on a tip I have on good authority with regards to program design:

Pull more than you push – Eric Cressey (www.ericcressey.com)

That means all you bench press addicts better add in some chins, Dumbell/Kettlebell cleans and rows into your routines quick sharp.

But for ongoing general shoulder health we have to take basic good habits out of the gym and into our daily grind. We Read the rest of this entry »








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