The shoulder is such an interesting part of the body. It’s a joint that’s suspended by muscles and fascia and its only point of contact with the rest of the skeletal system is a dinky little joint at the collar bone. Which means that our musculature is doing all the work to maintain stability while moving through huge ranges.

Underneath the layers of muscle, the shoulder has a capsule and it has four positions where it winds up and reaches its highest levels of tension and stability. If we can achieve these positions from start to finish when transitioning through movement, particularly under load we’ll have less chance of injury.


  1. The first movement being overhead a combination of external rotation and flexion at the shoulder and protraction of the scapula (moving forward around the rib cage). Examples of this being the start position of chest to bar pull up or end position of push press. Our arms should get past our ears with the elbow pits facing each other.
  1. Next the front rack position is also flexion and external rotation of the shoulder. Obvious examples are a front squat or the bottom of a hand stand push up. This is elbows up to shoulder level, with the hands outside the shoulders and palms turned up.
  1. Hang position is a full internal rotation of the shoulder. This can be seen when we clean or Snatch. Elbows out to the side at shoulder level and hands down to floor, aiming for the forearms to be in line with the body.
  1. The press position consists of internal rotation and extension. Seen with the start of a bench press or bottom of a ring dip. The elbows are taken past the body as far as possible with hands at chest level.

Failing to maintain shapes of stability becomes more difficult to transition and finish safely to the next position. Make sure you have competency in all 4 positions. If you’re struggling with a position you need to be mobilising. If you’re having pain with these positions you should have it assessed to avoid being side lined.

 

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