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Coach Sommer

Shoulder Dislocates

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Coach Sommer

The following essay will go into more detail on a relatively common shoulder mobility movement that is can be quite beneficial, however as it is often performed incorrectly, these potential benefits are often unrealized. Shoulder dislocates can, and should be, a part of everyone's joint prehabilitation.

Hold a belt in front of you at waist height (note: you may also use a dowel and more advanced athletes should use a weighted bar ranging anywhere from 5-20 lbs). As you lift the belt up and then backwards over your head, rather than thinking of moving your hands back, first "inlocate" or, in other words, think of rolling your shoulders forward. This will rotate the shoulder joint in the socket, making the backwards movement much smoother.

As you bring the belt back forward, first "dislocate" or roll the shoulders backward, then bring the arms around.

This drill may be done with either a regular pullup grip or a "dorsal" grip. To perform the dorsal grip, simply grip the belt behind your glutes with your hands turned thumbs out, as though you were going to do a curl. As you move your shoulders over the top, your forearms will rotate outward and place you in a dorsal grip.

I prefer to perform this movement for one set of ten repetitions each using both a pullup grip and an dorsal grip at least twice a week.

In my experience, you will gain the fastest results by performing this drill at the end of your workout when the joint is already throughly warmed up and heated. Also I would recommend "not" bending the elbows during this movement, as this relieves the stretch on the shoulder joint, which is the point of the exercise in the first place.

Occasionally someone will have one shoulder which lags behind in flexibility. One shoulder having a different arc of movement is not necessarily a sign of cheating or performing the movement incorrectly. Imbalances within the two shoulder joints can occur from a lifetime of training and competing. It is completely natural, at first, to have different ranges of motion within the same joint on different exercises. Unless there is a congenital condition, persistent training will alleviate the problem. Simply allow the tighter shoulder to establish the pace for improvement.

Be sure to be patient on these drills. Grinding or popping sounds are an indication that you are working too hard, with too close of a grip. Flexibility training should not be pursued with as much vigor as general conditioning exercises, as injuries will quickly occur unless great care is taken.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Jonathan Lin

Coach,

What is the difference between this exercise and Wall Extensions? One of my friends is unable to keep her forearms against the wall for Wall Extensions, but given a wide enough grip she can do shoulder dislocates with no problem. Is it better to save Wall Extensions until gaining more shoulder flexibility through this exercise?

Thanks,

Jlin

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vafarmboy

Is there a video for this? I can't visualize it.

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Coach Sommer

The goal is to continue to move the hands closer together during the shoulder dislocates as the shoulder girdle flexibility improves. Ultimately you should shoot for a minimum hands width of one and a half shoulders (the width of your shoulder times 1.5), or less.

Shoulder dislocates and wall extensions are not "either" "or" movements; both of them should be performed on a regular basis.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Spanyard

I used to do them with a towel after finished the breakdance session, and the results are awesome. I also notice that the shoulder dislocates streches my biceps and my forearms too, is it normal?

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Richard Duelley

I love these! They really help loosen my entire shoulder girdle after my workout.

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LukasM

The overhead squat showed me that I was severely lacking in shoulder flexibility, so I have been using these a little bit as well.

One thing I was wondering about is whether you are supposed to completely grip the bar during the whole movement? When I have it behind my back touching my butt I often find that I have to open up the hands a little bit, even with a wide grip that I can easily move through the arch.

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Coach Sommer

It is important that you maintain a firm grip and the same width, not allowing your hands to slide, during the entire movement.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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tmansfield

I've been doing these for a couple of weeks now to try and sort out a shoulder problem, pain in the front of my right shoulder. This occurred I think from when I used to do judo and my favourite throw would puts tonnes of pressure on my right shoulder in a hyper extended position.

When I do dislocates though I find my right trap hangs much lower than my left. I can counteract this by pulling it up, giving a better stretch in my right shoulder. Is this the right way to do it or should I let my shoulders move how they want and it will naturally correct itself after continuing the exercise over time?

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Coach Sommer

It is best to physically focus and bring the errant shoulder into line during the dislocates. Left unattended, it will continue to remain out of alignment.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Blairbob

Coach, do you ever work these in an undergrip fashion? I have them do overgrip, L-grip/eagle and undergrip. I do notice undergrip is very tough for me, but a few gyms ago the HC had them do it in all grips. Shouldn't eagle and undergrip be just about the same?

btw, a video

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Dede the Tank

Great essay Coach! I'd never thought of rolling the shoulders forward before starting the movement nor using a light weight. Very good tips.

Spanyard brought up an interesting point that flexibility in the bicep can limit how close you bring your arms together. I've also found that chest flexibility plays a part here and so to get the most from dislocates, it's probably best to work on bicep and chest flexibility if that is lacking.

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Mats Trane

Hi

I´ve come in a routine that I wait for the shower to get warm I perform 10 Dislocats and after that 10 Wall extensions. I do this every day. My question is:

Is this to often in other words can i t be bad for my shoulders?

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Coach Sommer

Whether or not these movements are damaging to the joints depends entirely on how judiciously they are performed. There should be no excessive straining, no grinding within the joint and no extreme discomfort. As long as these common sense parameters are followed, these are extremely beneficial movements and should be performed at least twice a week.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Ed Frank

There's another movement that I can best describe as figure-eights. Do you find these to be useful? For example, see this video:

When I do the figure eights, I find I must really focus on the hand going up and focus on reaching for the ceiling with my scapula, making it maximally rotate into the overhead reach. Otherwise, I get a lot of grinding and popping. So, I've wondered whether this movement is teaching me better shoulder mechanics and better motor patterns.

It actually feels like the lower hand is hanging from the stick, lifted by the upper hand rather than the lower hand shoving the upper hand up and over. I hope that subtlety makes this into an active movement for developing ROM rather than a passive stretching (which would be the case if the lower hand used the stick to jam the upper one up and over.)

Is this a useful movement?

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Coach Sommer
I get a lot of grinding and popping.

This "grinding and popping" is not inherent to this element, but rather a direct result of your attempting to perform this movement with too narrow a grip for your present range of motion. At your level, all joint prehab and flexibility should always be done smoothly and without excessive strain. Most people fail to understand that significant gains in flexibility are measured in months, not days. For maximum long term results, I have always found that it is most productive to remember to be patient and allow the body to adapt to the new training loads progressively.

Work hard, but prudently; the body knows best. It will always let you know if you are doing too much, IF you are smart enough to listen.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Ed Frank

I guess my question is a little different- I can do the movement without the grinding and popping, but it depends upon how I move. The figure eights seem to give me feedback (grind or no grind) according to how I move my scapulae and I wondered whether this was a useful way to learn to correctly use my shoulders. Someone once told me that I have a tendency to move between the anterior and lateral movement grooves inappropriately and that I need to train muscular control as well as range of motion. So I was wondering if this helps or if I'm just finding a non-functional compensation.

Sorry- I find shoulder movement really confusing.

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Coach Sommer

You are over thinking this element. Just follow the simple rule of no grinding and gradually work to decrease the width between your hands over time.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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1druid1

After having literaly dislocated both my shoulders, this movement is a nightmare for me, I have very little ROM in my shoulders due to no active rehabilitation after dislocating them. At the moment my hands have to be at least 1 meter apart before I can actually do this movement giving my current ROM, although there is no sign of Popping or Grinding, the pain involved with this movement moves well past the comfortable level and into "Can I have some anesthetic please?" pain level. The pain doesnt bother me, so should I stick with the current ROM and work through the pain or should I keep on moving my hands apart until the level of pain is more acceptable?

Cheers

Druid

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Coach Sommer

My recommendation is that you should discontinue this movement immediately; it is beyond your current capabilities.

The correct intensity required for joint preparation/active flexibility is substantially different than that required for conditioning. Effort, fatigue, as well as slight discomfort are all acceptable. However training with a "take no prisoners attitude" is guaranteed to lead to injury and, if continued in the long term, will eventually develop into multiple chronic over use injuries.

The good news is that eventually you will be able to distinguish between fatigue (the discomfort immediately begins to when the movement is discontinued) and injury (the discomfort continues to grow even though the movement has been discontinued). Unfortunately the bad news is that the only way to gain this experience is through making, and living with, bad decisions in the first place. However by being diligent and listening to your body, you can at least strive to minimize the short term damage done by over zealous training.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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1druid1

Thanks for the reply Coach

Your responses are always appreciated.

Because of the complete lack of ROM in my shoulders at the moment, what flexibilty routine / stretches could you advise for getting back ROM in my shoulders.

P.S Just to completely agree with the coach on the "take no prisoners" attitude and how harmful it can be, When I dislocated my right shoulder a few years back I unfortuantly put the shoulder back into place myself without going to the doctors. Yes i know stupid, we learn from our mistakes. It took me 4 months to eventualy go to the doctors, after a scan and checkup the doctor said that I had done no permenant damage but I had lost at least 40% flexibilty in the shoulder and had dimished the rotator cuff to quite a degree. Unfortuantly it wasnt the shoulder he was concerned about, becase of the lack of active rehabilitation on the shoulder and the surrounding muscles, the rest of the muscles in my back tried to compensate for my right side, which in turn ended up tightening and pulling from my left side which also pulled my spine out of allignment. It took nearly a year at the physio to help loosen off the muscles in my back and slowly realign my spine. 2 years on and my back / spine and shoulders are pretty healthy but unfortuantly my flexibilty is very poor throughout the entire shoulder /back and hips chain. The good news is I have been told that there is no reason I cannot regain flexibility but it will be a long road with hard work.

My attitude at the time was "ach it will be fine in a few days", becasue of that I have the flexibilty of a plank of wood and nearly ended up with permenant spine damage. I was lucky. So any advice that you can give coach will be taken onboard. The main thing for me that has to stick in is that its going to take a long time for me to regain the flexibility and not to rush things.

Cheers

Druid

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Coach Sommer
what flexibilty routine / stretches could you advise for getting back ROM in my shoulders.

This is quite a complicated process and one that will be addressed thoroughly in Liquid Steel™. In the interim, until Liquid Steel™ is available, I would recommend that you focus on Wall Extensions, Bridge Wall Walks and Weighted Pike Stretches.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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1druid1

Thanks for the reply Coach

I have done Wall Extensions and Bridge Wall Walks before, both are difficult stretches for me, as I said it will just take me some time. Havent tried Weighted Pike Streches yet so will give them a go. Looking forward to Liquid Steel™ coming out.

Cheers

Druid

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Ed Frank

Yes, many thanks from me as well. I'm looking forward to these exercises helping me retrain the shoulders.

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