November 7, 2012

Shoulder mobility sequence | Yuri’s band drill


This is a part of a shoulder mobility sequence that Yuri Marmerstein (he has a channel here, too) shared with us on a workshop in Scottsdale, AZ, earlier this year.

The sequence is simple to explain: using a band attached to a fixed point, you use its elasticity to pull the arm out of the shoulder joint (this is called "joint distraction"); you then move the shoulder girdle though its full range of movement ("circumduction"); you then play with moving the arm in relation to whichever point in this complex space feels good (by drawing shapes, for example). 

Explore all possible shoulder girdle positions: elevation, depression, protraction, retraction, and any others you can think of.

Increase the tension as you feel more confident; the easiest way to do this is simply to move a bit further away from the fixed point. Because this is a mobility sequence, you don't need to use a band that has too much tension in it. Being able to move through a wider range is more important than building the strength, at this point.

Read transcription

Hi everyone, Kit Laughlin here. I want to take you through Yuri Marmerstein's fantastic band shoulder mobility routine. When I learnt this at Coach Sommer's workshop, I thought it was fantastic. And since then I've been refining it hugely. We've made a few little changes to it. I hope Yuri approves, and no doubt he'll comment if he doesn't. But this I have found in my own shoulders to be absolutely sensational. Many of you know that I have a problem here, with the long head of biceps tendon in this shoulder for many years – as a result of a boxing accident – and this has, I can honestly say, this and the stick stretch have completely rehabilitated my shoulders.

So this is how... I'm going to turn away from you in a second. And just watch my shoulders. But before you begin, it's key to understand that the shoulder's capable of a number of fundamental movements. One is this elevation, which is also important in handstands, the other is depression, it's pulling and using lats and pecs to pull the shoulder down. Another, and I'll just turn side on to show you, is this forward movement here, where the shoulder blade moves around the ribcage and then you add this extra turn till we get an action called, protraction. And another one that we get is when the shoulder blade is pulled back like this. And the essence of this band sequence is to traction the arm so the joint itself is distracted as the terminology has it.

The arm is pulled out of the body. And then we move the shoulder through a full range of potential movements. And then as a separate action, we then draw little pictures with the arms. So I do figure of eights, usually, horizontally and vertically, or you can do circles, or any figure at all, really. Let me show you what it looks like.

The first thing is you'll need a band of a suitable thickness. This is about the right weight for me. Reach the hand through like this, and then stand back like this, to put the shoulder under traction. I'll just shuffle away a little bit further. Now, the action is to reach the band away from you, as I'm doing. And that uses trapezius to stretch latissimus dorsi, these big muscles here. And then watch, lift the shoulder up to the ear, back, down and reach forward. Reverse direction, pull down, pull back, reach back, up as high as possible and reach forward. And so a little bit more tension on the band, it will look like this in real time. One, two, three. Other way, one... and notice I'm trying to keep my arm as straight as possible, I'm only moving the shoulder at this point in time. So that's the first sequence.

Now the second sequence, we'll just stay in the same position here. With the joint under traction, I will put the shoulder in a number of different positions and then draw pictures. So I'll ptotract, figure of eights vertically. I'll retract, figure of eight vertically. I'll lift, figure of eight vertically, figure of eight, press, figure of eight. Vertically figure of eight like so, and so on. And so that's the first sequence.

The second sequence, I'll just turn side on like this. Again put the joint under stretch. Pull back, reach out, lift up, pull back, reach out. Depress the shoulder, pull back, up as high as possible and to here. And then of course, I'm sure it's obvious where I'm going to go next. Reach out, stretch the lats, maybe add a little lateral flexion to it. And this position here, those same drawing movements ca nbe added. I feel that today right down ove the sacroiliac joint; it feels absolutely fantastic. Elevate high as possible, pull back, pull down under tension, and reach out as far as possible. I'm going to turn the other way now and do a different action. Same, but this time I'm going to be in a different plane as you can see. Add a few turning things. And I'm going to turn and face away from you now. And show you the movement of the other shoulder from the back.

Feels wonderful. And now, I'm going to change the band height. Very simple matter if you've got a wonderful set of ladder bars like this. And now I'm going to face away from you. I've got the arm behind my back. And I'll show you what that looks like from the other side in a moment. Put the whole arm under contraction. Reach, pull the elbow out to the side slightly. Reach; I'm reaching in this direction. Watch, lift the shoulder, depress the shoulder, lift the shoulder, depress the shoulder. Protract, neutral, retract. Lift. Both directions, and now I'm going to show it from the other side. So, bring this shoulder back as far as you can, reach through the body, put the joint under the kind of tension you want. Then elevate, depress, elevate, retract, protract, retract, protract. More tension. We are drawing figure of eights now; vertically, horizontally, vertically, horizontally. Give it little bit of a stretch for the external rotator cuff muscles. Lean away. The most important thing I have found in my own body is this movement of the shoulder in all planes while the joint is being distracted.

This time I've tied two bands together, off the same point. And this is the actual exercise that I found helped the long head of bicep tendon so much on my left shoulder. So I need a bit more tension to make it really work. So I'm going to put the band under considerable tension like this, and then watch, shuffle myself away so that this whole line from the centre of the pecs here, right through the wrist, is stretched strongly, and then watch. I lift my chest, breathe into this quadrant here. Externally rotate the arm in the shoulder joint as much as possible and reach as far as possible. Then twist, twist, internally rotate, internally rotate, and watch what happens to this shoulder. Keep internally rotating. And the next thing you know, the whole shoulder girdle is turned over as well. A bit more tension and watch this wringing action.

Some of my colleagues have taken to calling it the joint flossing action. I don't know whether it's that, but I can tell you it feels absolutely sensational. And when last time when I was doing this with my friend, Mike Goldfield in Michigan, he actually held my arm and walked me away to put the joint under even more tension. And that felt absolutely sensational. So I'll just show you what that looks like on the other side for a moment. You can see it from the back, walk away extra... And then bring this right shoulder further back like this, to put that whole frontline under stretch. Externally rotate, internal, internal, internal roll the whole shoulder over and internally rotate the arm inside the shoulder joint, as far as you can. And you can increase the force on the joint, by bringing this right shoulder back in this direction. So it's external rotate, neutral, internal, and this is about the speed I do it. And as I get warmed up more and more, I bring my right shoulder further back, like this. That feels sensational.

So there's the basic template for you. Full movement of the shoulder joint itself in whatever range of movement you can take it through, with the arm being pulled out of the shoulder joint by an appropriate length and strength band. And once you've got the shoulder in any particular positions, you can draw pictures. So if we go back to that last exercise and we'll do it back on this arm again. This is what it would look like. Once you're in position, then watch, looking at this arm. I'm drawing pictures, figure eight in this case, while all this line is under tension. A vertical figure of eight and I can turn the shoulder in to the internal rotated position and do exactly the same thing. And somewhere in between these points I'm pausing in, and moving the band up or down, somewhere will be a point that's just right for your shoulder.

And once you've found a point that feels like it needs some work, put the joint under a bit more tension and practice moving the joint around that tension point. And then practice moving the arm inside the shoulder joint when it's in that actual position. Look, I've only shown you the most basic movements. There are thousands more possible, but the key idea is, join under tension and then the maximum amount of movement of the joint and then the arm within the joint. Try this. You will absolutely love this and Yuri, thank you so much for teaching me this sequence. Thank you.


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