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Clear the T-Spine, Now We Can Start Talking Shoulders

Hey Mwodies,

One of the central ideas about the MWod model is that the trunk is a carriage or chassis for the primary engines of of the shoulder and hip.  So by extension, if your thoracic spine or pelvis are in a poor position you won’t be able to optimize hip or shoulder function.  Today’s episode is a nice example of this concept.  Carl Paoli ( has incredible capacity for overhead movement, but he is a little turtlely (like a turtle) in his upper back as a result of spending so much time as a high level gymnast as a kid.  For Carl, this results in some definite forward neck on head positioning because his stiff T-spine literally blocks the correct positioning of his head.  Oh, and of his shoulders too.  We started trapping the sternum with a plate a few months ago when mobilizing the T-spine with the double lacrosse ball pea-nut.  We noted that we had much better mobilization when the posterior to anterior mob force wasn’t dissipated  through the sternum (plate keeps sternum down). Since we are trying to improve Carl’s overhead positioning we need to get him into an actual overhead position.   As you can see in the video, it’s not Carl’s shoulder that limits his overhead shoulder position (end range flexion) but rather the car crash between his moving scapula and his T-spine/rib cage complex.  When Lauren Hill said, “how you gonna win if you ain’t right within?” she obviously was referring to this relationship.  Athletes are always talking about shoulder range, but rarely are they talking about shoulder complex range.  Your scapula CONTAINS your shoulder.  How are you ever really going to understand what the heck is going on with your shoulder function if your shoulder blades are always disorganized and move poorly.

Test/Retest:  Overhead Press and handstand.

Click here to view the embedded video.


Ps. You can’t PR on awesome.  FYI

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