I have one question regarding shoulder range of motion/flexibility during the overhead dumbbell press. I have observed a few of my clients performing this exercise from a side view and have noticed that as the weight travels over the head, the arms do not line up with each other. It appears as if one arm is reaching slightly forward in relation to the other arm. What could be the specific cause of this? What would you recommend in order to correct it (any particular stretches or movement modifications)?
For the sake of discussion, I will assume your client has no structural obstruction(s) within the shoulder girdles four joints (SC - Sternoclavicular, AC - Acromioclavicular, GH - Glenohumeral, ST - Scapulothoracic) that may have been caused by injury, genetic factors, etc. and are now causing restricted ROM. If you suspect this or if there is any pain present, you will want to refer your client out to a specialist. I will simply discuss the muscular imbalance that may be contributing significantly to the asymmetry you're noticing.
What you're referring to is an asymmetrical lack of shoulder flexion or tightness in the shoulder extensors. This is common in the postural distortion pattern known as upper crossed posture, which is very common in today’s society with it's emphasis on seated and traditional exercises and the time spent on computers, in automobiles, etc. The important thing to remember here is this: tightness in the shoulder extensors (primarily the latissimus dorsi) will/can result in compensatory excessive lumbar extension while doing overhead movements due to the lat's insertion point into the Thoraco-Lumbar-Fascia (TLF). If overhead pressing is a goal or is part of the "program," then optimal shoulder flexion of about 180 degrees is vital to prevent compensation, injury and ultimately pain.
UPPER CROSSED POSTURE
Characterized by rounded shoulders and a forward head.
- SHORT MUSCLES TO BE STRETCHED:
- Upper traps
- Levator scapulae
- Pec major/minor
- LENGTHENED MUSCLES TO BE STRENGTHENED:
- Deep cervical flexors
- Serratus anterior
- Mid traps
- POSSIBLE EXERCISES:
- Cervical Retraction
- Prone Cobras: prone position, arms at side, neutral spine, abdominal draw in maneuver, squeeze glutes, scapular retraction & depression with shoulder external rotation
- Scaption: shoulder lateral raise in the "scapular plane"
- PNF Shoulder Patterns: up and outs, down and outs, etc.
*NOTE: ALL EXERCISES AND STRETCHES CAN BE FOUND IN THE EXERCISE & FLEXIBILITY LIBRARY.
Learning how to administer a basic Kinetic Chain Assessment (in order to identify what we've abbreviated above on your own) is an absolute must for fitness performance/professionals today. IT'S NOT JUST LIFTING WEIGHTS ANYMORE. To begin learning these concepts, please refer to "related articles" link at right or below.