Zenith Performance Physical Therapy


The Overhead Athlete and Shoulder Pain

March 2, 2024

When it comes to managing the painful shoulder in an athlete, be that a Crossfitter, thrower, or circus artist, we aim to quickly put out the initial fire and talk about how to best keep someone training in their chosen sport. The next big stage is to find testing positions that keep giving us good, reliable information regarding the progress of the shoulder capacity.

Below are a few of my favorite testing positions which I check out. My standard tends to be holding these positions without pain and for a long duration without having extra compensations at the rest of the upper extremity chain.

Prone Shoulder Flexion

  • Facedown on a bench, the floor, or a bed, raise your arm up to an overhead position with the thumb pointing parallel to the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, aiming for maintaining the upper arm parallel to the floor.
  • Check out the above video from E3 Rehab!

Prone Shoulder ER 90/90 to above parallel and hold for 30 seconds

  • Facedown on a bench, the floor, or a bed, have your upper arm held out directly to the side (perpendicular to your body), and your elbow bent to 90 degrees.
  • Rotate at your shoulder so the back of your hand and forearm raise up, aiming to keep above the parallel to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.

Added Bonus:

A secret boost to your normal PVC stick warmups! Ditch the normal PVC dislocations in standing done with zero intent and focus, and instead lay on the floor to work your shoulder flexion motion and warmup both the rotator cuff and upper back at the same time. Try out 3 sets of 10-second holds at maximum height.

Want individualized strength and conditioning programming to ensure you don’t waste time or fall off track from your programming? Have some nagging pain or injury popping up that holds you back from hitting PRs? That’s exactly what we’re focused on solving at Zenith Performance Physical Therapy. Call or text us at 562-502-1767 to schedule a free phone consultation and come in for an evaluation!

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