Self Massage of Lat and Rotator cuff to improve Shoulder Flexion

Put your hands up in the air


This week's video is for those of you who are still having trouble improving your shoulder flexibility - in particular when raising the arms straight out in front of you while still having the upper shoulders and neck stay relaxed.

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Is massage better than stretching to improve flexibility?


There are some areas of the body that I think massage techniques can be much more effective than stretching when trying to improve flexibility.  This week's example of shoulder flexion is a good example, especially if you are one of those people who also has joint instability or a 'pinching' discomfort in the shoulder when you try to stretch overhead, you might benefit from some more specific muscle release work.  The act of lifting the arms over the head is an extremely complex action in which the shoulder joint not only hinges and glides within the socket, but also the shoulder blade and rib cage must contribute so that all of the work doesn't have to happen in the shoulder joint alone.  When you feel that pinching feeling in the top of your shoulder, this can be a sign that you are getting 'hung up' in one area and the shoulder is moving too much from one spot.

Imagine you have a chain in which the links are somewhat pliable, like the leather of the shoe.  Now imagine that you want to elongate just one of the links in the chain, but you can only pull on the ends of the chain in order to do so - you would just wind up stretching all the links and getting nowhere right?  While this is a crude analogy, I like to use it to visualize how stretching is sometimes not specific enough. 

As your stability and muscle awareness increases over time, you can get better at targeting your stretches to where you want them and getting more out of them, but sometimes nothing replaces a great session with your massage therapist or your lacrosse ball :).

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