Tuesday, August 28, 2012

External rotation and the rack position

Here's my second entry aimed at improving your mobility in this CFSQ Olympic liftng cycle.  First we addressed improving the bottom of the squat.  Since not everyone is working the overhead portion of the snatch, I am going to save that for down the road a bit, and we will look at improving the range of motion in the shoulder and elbow in order to easily get into the rack position.  As we are all learning, these Olympic lifts are highly technical and even the smallest deviation from ideal movement and positioning can have pretty significant effects on your ability to increase your maxes.  Even without looking at maxes, these lifts have a tendency to uncover even the tiniest deviations in our mobility.
So the next one I want to look at is the shoulder (and elbow, to a lesser extent) in the rack position.  For many of us, there is the issue of mobility in the shoulder - specifically in the rotator cuff.

In order to achieve an optimal rack position (and receiving position for the clean), the shoulder must be able to move into both flexion (like a zombie's arms as they shuffle toward fresh brains), and external rotation (like a baseball pitcher at the back of their wind up).  In daily life, as we reach towards our computers and steering wheels, we tend to be in a state of flexion with some internal rotation, along with shoulder protraction (which I will address in the next post).  So, the combination of flexion and external rotation is definitely not a normal position for most of us.  If we cannot hit this position with relative ease, we are likely to make compensations both in our rack and in the movements we use getting to that rack.
First, let's take a look at the flexion.  Do your best zombie impression (palms facing down), and see how you feel with that.  Most likely, it's all good.  From here, turn your palms to face one another by rotating your arms at the shoulders, not the elbow (the inside of your elbow should be facing straight up, or perhaps even a little outward).  Do your shoulders sort of creep forward and does your chest collapse in order to make this movement happen?  If so, then you need better external rotation of the shoulder.  The shoulder is a wonderfully mobile joint, by design.  This means that it's less stable, by definition, and that it has a lot of "cheat" built into it.  When we can't get into a position using the proper movement, we will combine multiple shoulder movements to approximate the intended motion.  We don't want to utilize that cheat, because utilizing the mobility means minimizing the stability in the end position.

How to improve this external rotation for the rack position?  Here's an idea:

Remember that I am offering massage packages to help address your range of motion needs in this Olympic lifting cycle.

Now go get stronger!