Exercise of the week: Overhead Rotations for Improved Shoulder Flexibility

This exercise is great for opening up the chest and shoulders and preparing for the Olympic lifts, handstands and other overhead movements. Check the video below:

A description of how to perform this exercise is below:

The goal during this exercise is two-fold:

1.     To increase circumference of the rotation with the end goal of getting the bar from the thighs to the low back with straight arms

2.     To achieve full range of motion (as per point 1) whilst gradually narrowing the grip to achieve even more versatility

Follow the following steps to execute the exercise properly and get the most benefit:

1.     Grab a broomstick (or other light implement such as a PVC pipe) with a wide grip and straight arms.

2.     Keep your head neutral and as relaxed as possible throughout the movement

3.     Squeeze your abs and glutes tight throughout the entire exercise – this is to avoid arching through the spine and to place the emphasis of the extra range of movement being achieved through the shoulders.

4.     Keeping the arms straight, rotate the broomstick up in front of the body and push it up as high as possible in the top position overhead.

5.     From the top position, focus on pulling it back the broomstick back then down – aiming to rotate the implement all the way down to the lower back/buttocks

6.     Reverse the movement by pushing back and up again, rotating the broomstick all the way back to the starting position in the same manner as before

7.     Do a couple of full rotations then narrow your grip slightly and repeat – keep doing this with your grip until you reach a point where your shoulder range of motion doesn’t allow full movement

8.     You can also throw in some pulldowns mid rotation form the top position to reinforce good scapula movement and prime the shoulders to deal with loading in the overhead position. Be sure you have adequate flexibility before performing the pulldowns and make sure you keep your elbows tracking directly underneath your wrists the entire time

If you reach a sticking point with your rotations when using a fairly wide grip, you would be best served working on this exercise daily until you achieve greater range of movement past your sticking points. The tighter you are through the shoulder and chest, the slower you should go through the movement. Stop increasing the range of movement if you start to feel pain and your shoulders won’t allow further movement – i.e. don’t push the joints