Am I going overhead safely?

By: Leo Fontana

Shoulder flexibility and mobility is something many of us lack. Healthy and mobile scapula (shoulder blades), a flexible thoracic spine (mid back), and stability overhead are crucial to being able to go overhead safely. However, we see many people going overhead with poor positioning and on top of it all going heavier than they should, and doing this daily. A lot of the time this results in lower back pain, shoulder pain and everyone’s favorite… a lot of “NO REPS,” which compared to the other two is the least of our worries.

If you’d like to perform a quick test to see if you have full range of motion to go overhead with a load safely, here’s what you’ll need to do: lay down on the floor, now keeping your lower back in contact with the ground (during the whole test), bring both hands over your head and try to touch your thumbs to the floor. Elbows should be locked out and biceps as close to your ears as possible. If your lower back starts to come away from the ground, you’ve failed this particular assessment. What this means is that you most likely sacrifice your lower back when you perform push presses or push jerks. If your lower back stayed in contact with the floor but your thumbs didn’t reach the floor, that is a fail as well. You’re reps are most likely “no reps” or your shoulders hurt after doing too many thrusters or other overhead movements.

The cause of these shortened ranges of motion are caused by many different reasons. The most common are: sitting for long periods of time, back posture, standing with bad posture for long periods of time and never really caring about or putting time into mobility, stretching, warm ups and cool downs. Some of us will fail “cold” and be able to pass after a good warm up. This is normal, that’s one of many reasons why you should get to class on time and take the warm up seriously.

Now it’s your turn to look in the mirror and ask yourselves, “do I want to get hurt or do I want to get jacked and tan?” Make your decision and take care of your body.