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Monday- Overhead Mobility

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WOD- Monday 10/09/2017

EMOM x 8;
-1 Clean and Jerk at last weeks 2RM
*squat clean and split jerk.
-6 Power Cleans (95/135)
-6 Front Squats (95/135)
-6 STOH (95/135)
-12 burpees over the barR+ (105/155)


Overhead Mobility
by: Coach Brandon

In our culture, sitting is a daily occurrence and habit that compromises our posture, A LOT! Many people feel these effects in their backs or knees and never realize that it results in a loss of overhead mobility. It is usually only when an athlete is asked to press something directly over their center of mass that they realize there is an issue.

We are going to go over four areas to address when trying to improve the overhead position. The thoracic spine, shoulders, elbows and wrists. There will also be a series of videos covering the drills.  It’s imporant to note that when we reference the term “overhead” that this applies at all movement with resistance overhead (presses, OH squat, handstands etc).

Thoracic Spine

The Thoracic spine is the branch of vertebrae from the base of your neck to a few inches below your shoulder blades (see image). When mobilizing the thoracic spine we are trying to get it to move into extension. A great way to start mobilizing the thoracic spine is to use a foam roller, then moving onto the peanut (two taped together lacrosse balls) which will allow you to address smaller segments of the thoracic spine. This is a great way to loosen up the tissues in the upper back before moving onto other drills.  A great time to do this is BEFORE a workout, but any time spent with these drills is time well spent.

Take your foam roller or peanut, lay over the top of it, and at first just relax to get as comfortable as possible. This can be an uncomfortable position especially with the peanut. Be sure to keep the core engaged or you will be extending in the lower back, in most cases your hips will be OFF the ground. From there you can drop your hips to the ground with the core still engaged and do thoracic extensions over the foam roller or peanut. Starting at the base of the thoracic spine working your way up.

Just so you know there is not a lot of range of motion in this area, so move in small increments with your core engaged/ ribcage down other wise we will be extending from the lumbar spine which will not let us target the intended area.

After taking care of the soft tissue of the T-spine we can go into other thoracic mobility drills, so they are more effective. The bench T-spine mobilization drill is a great way to then further extend through the thoracic spine. It can also be done without a PVC at home on a bed, couch or table.  Think of this almost like a child’s pose with you arms elevated.


When moving onto the shoulders, just like the T-spine, we want to go after the soft tissues before incorporating other mobility drills. We want to go after the pectoral, and latissimus dorsi (lat) which become short, again, because of our daily posture and sitting with our shoulders rounded forward.

The shoulder girdle is a very complex area with a lot of muscle groups around it. As a result there are a lot of things that could be going on in your shoulders, and it’s different for everyone. To find out  what the major issue may be, work on one area at a time and retest your overhead mobility by pressing a barbell or dumbbells overhead before moving onto the next.

Target the pectorals with soft tissue release first. Take a lacrosse ball and place it just on the inside of your shoulder (chest), then lean your body weight into it on a solid surface. Something like a door frame or the rig works great, so you can move your arm through different ranges of motion.

After, work on lengthening the tissue with a stretch. The banded pectoral stretch is great for this. If you do not have access to a band, this can be performed in a doorway without the band.

Start the same way when targeting the lat. Use a foam roller here to work on the soft tissue. Lay on your side over a foam roller, starting from the base of your rib cage all the way to your armpit. Rock horizontally and vertically to different spots of the lat. When you reach a tender spot, take a few extra seconds before moving on. This can also be performed with a band distracting the shoulder (see video).

From there, we will be able to lengthen the lat more effectively. The banded lat stretch is a great way to isolate the lat. If you have no access to a band, the bench T-spine mobilization from above is also a good way to hit the lats indirectly.

Elbows/ Wrists

The final part of this series are our elbows and wrists. Many times improving thoracic and shoulder mobility will improve full extension of the elbow.  Leading to a healthier wrist because we aren’t compensating our wrist position for the lack of thoracic and shoulder mobility. But this isn’t always the case. The wrist is a complex joint and often gets the short end of the stick when trying to improve overhead or front rack mobility.

Again, start with the soft tissue work. Rolling out your forearms can be extremely effective. use a lacrosse ball, peanut, or get creative by using a water bottle. Place your tool of choice on a tabletop, then use your body weight to press into the tool slowly along the length of the muscles on the top and bottom of your forearm. If you notice a tender spot, hold in that area for a few extra seconds before moving on.

After move on to more mobility drills;

  1. Wrist rotations: rotate in circles in both clock and counterclockwise ten times, then extension and flexion ten times and repeat for a few rounds. These are extremely simple and you should repeat often throughout the day.
  2. Static holds: On your knees place your wrists into extension with your fingers facing your knees and slowly rock back until you feel a stretch and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. You can also use a band to distract the wrist.

Now sit up straight and get to work on your overhead position. Remember, starting with soft tissue work will help to get the most out of the other mobility drills that you incorporate.