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High Functioning Shoulders – not just for baseball players!

Posted by tdifranc on January 5, 2014

Sometimes I feel like I work in a “basketball bubble” which is just fine with me because it is by far my favorite sport to play or watch. Most people do not think basketball and think “overhead sport”, but trust me basketball players spend plenty of time with their arms overhead. Rebounding, passing, receiving passes, dunking, shooting, and even defending in the game of basketball all require overhead work. Poorly functioning rotator cuff/scapular musculature combined with the repetitive overhead work described above is a great recipe for shoulder impingement or other overuse pathology.

Sneaky overhead work requirements show up in other sports and activities of daily living as well. My point is that even athletes/people who don’t play a traditional overhead sport need high functioning shoulders and a few simple steps can be taken towards this!

Toss several basic arm exercise program exercises like the ones shown in the video below into your training a few days a week to help you avoid nagging shoulder overuse injuries…even if you are not a baseball player.

How Many/How Often/Cues:

– Theraband Half-Kneel External Rotation: 2 x 8-12 reps (until fatigue/form erodes); 2-3 times per week; Stay tall in the half-kneeling position without rocking back into lumbar extension; Maintain a “chin-tuck” position (double-chin); Keep shoulder blades down and back.

– Val-Slide Wall-Slide: Adopted from Mike Reinold – an expert in optimally functioning shoulders! 2 x 10-20 reps (until fatigue/form erodes); 2-3 times per week; Squeeze the glutes and pull your belly-button towards your chin (neutral pelvis position); Avoid “sagging” towards the wall; Here is a great post and progression related to this exercise from Mike.

– Standing Inverted Wall Plank: Adopted from Dan John – one of my favorite experts in this field who happens to have worked with “throwing” athletes for longer than I have been alive! 2-3 x 10-45 seconds (until fatigue/form erodes); 2-3 times per week; Squeeze the glutes and pull your belly-button towards your chin (neutral pelvis position); There should be space between the wall and your spine from top to bottom; Maintain a “chin-tuck” position (double-chin); Avoid shrugging the shoulders.

Bonus Info: If you are a baseball player, this BASIC batch of rotator cuff/scapular musculature exercises probably will not cut it for you to achieve optimal shoulder function. Eric Cressey is the expert in this area in my opinion! I highly recommend tapping into his expertise/resources for baseball specific training. His new High Performance Handbook is a great place to start!!!


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