Shoulder Pain from CrosFit
I’m back with yet another blog on shoulder pain. Why? Well, shoulder pain is extremely common, especially in the CrossFit community. In a previous blog on shoulder pain, I talked about the 3 most common causes: inappropriate volume, mobility impairments, and stability impairments. While all of these concepts still apply (seriously, go check it out!), I want to touch on a couple things specific to shoulder pain with snatches.
First of all, what the heck is a snatch?
If not familiar with weightlifting or CrossFit, this may be a new movement to you. You may have experience with dumbbell snatches, but for the purpose of this blog, I’m referring to barbell squat snatches. With this movement, the barbell starts on the floor and ends when the barbell is overhead and you are in a full squat. Check it out!
One key mobility assessment is overlooked regarding shoulder pain: ankle dorsiflexion. When ankle dorsiflexion mobility is limited, we bend more at the hips in order to reach squat depth. The more we bend forward at our hips, the further our torso is inclined. The further forward our torso, the more internal rotation at the shoulders. This causes a repetitive shear force that can end up aggravating them. To summarize, more ankle mobility = more upright torso = happier shoulders.
How do we assess ankle dorsiflexion mobility?
We love using the half kneeling wall test. Set up so that the big toe is one hand width away from the wall. Drive the knee forward and see if the knee is able to touch the wall WITHOUT the heel popping off the ground. This is the minimum amount of dorsiflexion we want to have for efficient squats, but some people require even more depending on the limb length and mobility at other joints.
If we’re feeling a little stiff, here are a few of our favorite dorsiflexion mobility drills:
DRILL 1: ANKLE DF HOLD ON BENCH w/UE ASSIST
DRILL 2: KB CALF SMASH
DRILL 3: SL SEATED SOLEUS HEEL RAISES
Keep these notes in mind for the drills above:
(1) Keep your heel flat on the bench. Use your arms to pull your body against your leg so that you get a stretch in the back of your ankle. Complete 1-2x holding for 10 slow, deep breaths at end-range.
(2) For some, freeing up the soft tissue in the calf region makes a difference in ankle mobility. Find 3-5 tender spots in your calf and pump your ankle 10 times in each location.
(3) Turn this strengthening exercise in a stretch by pausing and driving your heel down to the ground. Repeat 10 times with 5 slow, deep breaths in the stretch position.
Besides the stability and rotator cuff exercises I have in the previous shoulder pain blog, (READ HERE) my recommendation is to work on your overhead squats!
Ankles? A+ Strength? C…
If we don’t feel strong and stable working through an overhead squat, how can we be confident catching weight with speed in the bottom of a squat? Overhead squats are the ultimate combination of mobility, stability, and strength. I recommend adding in overhead squats one time a week into accessory work. If pain allows, shoot for 3-4 sets of 5 reps so heavier weight progression can happen.