Unlock the Upper Body

March 7, 2022
2 min read

At THP, we take every person that comes in our doors through an assessment. This initial assessment involves a lifestyle screen, an InBody scan, upper body and lower body mobility screens, a vertical power screen and a rotational power test. Now, you may be wondering, why do we screen? Think of it like bringing your car to a mechanic. You don't just drop it off and ask them to fix it without first looking at it, right? The same concept applies to our screen; we want to know what may be holding you back so we can design and implement the right movements for you. We use the functional movement screen (FMS) and the breakouts to catch any areas of your body that may be struggling. In today's blog, we are specifically looking into the pieces of the screen that measure upper body mobility and why it is important for you in your life, activities, and sport.

When looking at the upper body screen, we want to see if you are able to have full range of motion through the shoulder joint. Without adequate mobility in the shoulder, pain may start to creep in through not only the joint itself, but into other areas like the back. Lack of mobility can also affect performance in the gym or athletics when wanting to express power through the entire body. At THP, we use the FMS shoulder mobility test to determine a couple pieces of information: 1) if there are any asymmetries between right and left sides of the body, and 2) if someone is primed for overhead pressing or if overhead pressing should be avoided. Following the initial check of shoulder function, we go into a shoulder clearing test to see if there is any impingement in the joint. If there is any pain across any bit of this screen, then that pain needs to be addressed for safety of training. For more insight on this shoulder mobility test, check out our video.

Some individuals clear the shoulder mobility test with flying colors, while others present with some opportunity for areas of improvement. If the screen isn't up to par, then we proceed into three additional breakouts for greater insight into any influences that might be limiting the upper body. For more of a visual depiction of each breakout, check out this video.

The first breakout involves the T-spine. The T-spine region influences the upper body because if our T-spine has difficulty rotating left and right, then we may be asking our shoulder to compensate and do more work. During the breakout test, we look at if the T-spine can rotate at least 45° both left and right. Anything below 45° tells us that this person needs to work on T-spine mobility.

The second breakout is testing lat length. This test reveals if the lats allow for optimal mobility of shoulder function. The main consideration of this breakout to see if someone can maintain core stability while going through the full range of motion. If the core is given up, then lat mobility will be a priority in the program.

Lastly, we have the 90/90 external rotation test. The 90/90 looks strictly at the shoulder joint. The elbow starts parallel with the shoulder, and from there you will rotate the arm back. We look to see if you can get past your spine angle. If so, this is optimal shoulder mobility. If not, it tells us that we just need to work on this a bit more.

There you have it! This is a brief insight into our upper body mobility screen and the information we can extract from it. We look at all components of the shoulder including the joint function itself, the lat, and the T-spine. Every piece plays a part in the process. When we use the test and the breakouts, we are able to address the specific issues involving the upper body and the shoulder. Reach out to us to schedule a Performance Assessment if you're curious how your upper body mobility measures up. Once addressed, you can then hopefully be pain free or even see an increase in power and strength!


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