ShoulderTests – when should take action?
The shoulder is a complex joint, so great care must be taken when training with a wing not quite ready for flight. When I refer to shoulder pain, I am talking about soreness and dull aches, as opposed to sharp pains or severe structural damage. Any time you have a nagging pain, please seek the clearance of a sports medicine professional to rule out serious injury or complications.
Once your joint integrity has been deemed healthy, you can get to work improving the function of your shoulder.
The shoulder is made of several joints and muscles that work together to provide the largest range of motion of any joint in the body.
However, such a complex structure is subject to numerous possibilities for weakness and dysfunction. The key to identifying shoulder issues, and consequently the appropriate course of action to correct them, can be deciphered through two simple self-tests.
Mobility Screen: Apley Scratch Test
Place your arm overhead and reach behind your neck to touch your opposite shoulder blade with your palm. This checks whether your shoulder can move through the motions needed to properly throw a ball, including external rotation and shoulder blade movement (raise and rotate upward).
Reach your opposite arm behind your low back and move the back of your hand up to touch your shoulder blade. This checks to see if your shoulders can internally rotate and if you can pull your shoulder blade back (retract and rotate downward), which is important for stabilizing the joint.
If you have difficulty touching your shoulder blade, feel tightness or even pain on either test, then your mobility must be improved.
Stability Screen: Single-Arm Push-Up Position Hold Test
Assume Single-Arm Push-Up position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your opposite arm directly out to the side. Hold the position for 30 seconds without shifting your weight, dropping your hips or losing stability in your supporting shoulder.
This test assesses the strength of the shoulder-stabilizing muscles. If you fail to support your body for the specified time or sense pain, you need to improve your shoulder stability. If you can’t support your own bodyweight, how will your joint handle throwing a fastball or even landing from a fall? The results likely won’t be good.
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