Upper Body Mobility Stretching

Upper body mobility: Is it holding back your lower body training?

Do you suffer elbow or shoulder pain when trying to get under the bar for a low bar squat?

Do you struggle to get into a suitable position to catch a snatch without dumping the bar forward?

If so, you are not alone! In my experience in working with powerlifters and olympic lifters this is a very common issue. More often than not it can be traced back to a lack of mobility in your thoracic spine and shoulders. Read on if you feel this is an area you could improve and want some simple drills to incorporate into your workouts!

Causes of mobility issues in the upper back

  1. We tend to have very sedentary jobs and lives outside of the gym. Hours of sitting in front of a computer or tv screen can wreak havoc on our upper back and shoulder health
  2. There is a bias on strengthening muscles on the front of our bodies (pecs, front deltoid) and the muscles on the back can get forgotten. 

Luckily these issues can be easily addressed! All it takes from you is commitment to spend 5-10 minutes incorporating them into your training and mobility sessions.  Below are some of my favourite mobility drills for each area as well as video demonstrating each move.

Thoracic Sweep
This is a great way to increase the rotational mobility in your upper back, something that most of us lack in. Make sure you keep your knees down and only rotate as far as you feel comfortable to begin with. Perform 2 lots of 10 each way.

Thoracic extension over foam roller with a barbell
Warning: this can be an intense stretch! Place a foam roller between your shoulder blades and reach back over for the barbell. Start with your hands wide and you feel more comfortable move your hands in closer together. Try 2 lots of 30 seconds over the roller.

Pec Release
This is one of the best ways to open up your shoulders after a long day of sitting at a desk. Pin the ball between the squat rack and your pec and create as much pressure as you can tolerate. Roll up and down for about 60 seconds each side.

Javelin Stretch
Another great way to open up your shoulders. If you feel that you need to have your arms very wide on the bar to squat or are getting elbow pain, this is the stretch for you. Watch the video below for a demo. Start with your arm facing forward first and then move back as you feel your range improving! Try 5 x 10 second holds.

So there you go, a quick and easy way to help improve your upper body mobility which will help you hit more PR’s in the gym!

Give these a try if you feel this could be an area that would take your training to the next level. Or, if you’re not sure, pop into the clinic to say hey and get a thorough and individualised assessment and mobility plan to get you back training pain free!

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