The lack of a quality shoulder and arm care program can wreak havoc on your strides in the weight room, on the performance field/court, and in your overall health. However, if long-term resilience and robust shoulder health is your goal, you'll want to check out this 3-part warm-up routine.
1. Side-Lying Book Opener
The Side-Lying Book Opener is my absolute go-to drill for basic shoulder and thoracic (upper back) mobility. Most folks miss the boat when it comes to shoulder prep and just think that activation and stability are important. Those two items are definitely paramount in shoulder health, but, once established, it's crucial to stack mobility on top of stability, which is why I'm a big fan of this drill.
Be sure to keep the rest of your body stable as you perform this drill. Some folks have a tendency to let that top leg slide off the foam roller. This ultimately defeats the purpose of the drill, because it ends up creating mobility at the lower back rather than in the true target areas: upper back and shoulders. Keep that top leg glued down to the foam roller, while following the moving hand with your eyes (and head) throughout each rep.
HOW TO USE:
Perform 2 sets of 8 reps per side.
2. Wall Slides at 135 Degrees w/ Lift Off:
Keeping the arms at 135 degrees in the overhead pattern provides great functional carryover into training, sports, and in life. This drill does a good job of helping you establish a smooth overhead pattern in a truly useful range of motion (versus pure overhead shoulder flexion). The addition of the lift-off helps to engage the upper trap muscles and posterior shoulder/back muscles prior to loading them in training.
It's important to move in a controlled and deliberate manner as opposed to speeding through this drill. Treat the wall slide and the lift-off as two separate entities here, while focusing on a short pause in between the exchange from one to the next. Keep your abs locked down with a "short core" to avoid unnecessary hyperextension in the low back.
HOW TO USE:
Perform 2 sets of 10 reps as the second exercise in this warm-up routine.
3. Wall Slides vs. Mini-Band
This drill serves as a great way to activate the muscles needed during loaded pushing, pressing, and pulling training exercises. The addition of the band helps to ensure slow and controlled movement. Just think: heavy lifting and high performance all starts with proper preparation. If you don't prepare the right way, you'll be hard-pressed to have longevity in the weight room and on the field/court.
I like to use the starting point as having the thumbs lined up roughly with your eyes. From there, keep both arms glued to the wall and also parallel to each other, as if representing the "equals" sign. It's also important to keep your abs locked down with a "short core" to avoid unnecessary hyperextension in the low and mid-back.
HOW TO USE:
Perform 2 sets of 10 reps as the third exercise in this warm-up routine.
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Matthew Ibrahim is the Lead Performance Coach at TD Athletes Edge with a strong passion in athletic development, sport performance, and context-rich assessment protocols to enhance performance output and build a foundation of resilience. Over the years he has worked with youth and high school athletes, collegiate athletes, and members in professional sports in the NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB, and UFC. His professional work has been featured in major publications such as Men’s Fitness, STACK Media, and The PTDC. A highly sought-after resource and thought leader for strength coaches and sports rehab pro’s alike, he has consulted with the likes of EXOS at Google Headquarters and dorsaVi Technology.
He is quite active on Instagram (@matthewibrahim_) and routinely posts about training, performance and recovery. Follow along here: