Essential Upper Body Mobility for Athletes

April 21, 2015

Mobility in the athletic performance world describes how well (or inhibited) your joints and corresponding muscles, move through a range of motion.

Most sports call for a general amount of mobility to perform the skills required for your sport and to minimize injury. There are also times when having more mobility will keep you from getting injured due to more rigorous components of your game.

You can mobilize any joint in your body and it is not difficult to do. In this article and video I give you my essential joint mobility exercises that can be implemented before you practice and play in your games to get you warmed up and primed to perform at your best.

Upper Body Mobility Exercises

Most of the upper body mobility I will be covering involves the shoulder joint and the musculature around it. Shoulders are designed to move in any direction imaginable so it would be in your best interest to get them mobile especially if you are a throwing or overhead hitting athlete.

You can do any of the exercises below on their own, however I have found that using a small resistance band is a great way to help assist the mobility movements. You can use the bands for support through the movement or for even a little more resistance to strengthen the muscles throughout the range of motion. I have had many of my athletes keep a band in their training bag and do these drills before their training and competitions.

Front Pull Aparts

One of my favorite movements I got from renowned strength and conditioning coach Joe DeFranco. This one helps break the forward posture created by sitting in class, driving, texting etc. Getting your chest up and retracting the shoulders strengthens the upper back and opens up the rib cage allowing you to breathe better.

Grab the band with a wrist straight, overhand grip. Keeping your shoulders and rib cage down, pull the shoulder blades together. Control the band back to the starting position and repeat for about 10-15 reps or until you are feeling loose.

Shoulder Flexion and Extension

Can you raise your shoulders directly over your head without leaning back or lifting your ribcage to get full range of motion? If you can’t, don’t worry, you are in the majority group of athletes I see; however, it should be addressed.

Grab the band with your wrist straight and overhand grip. Keeping your shoulders and rib cage down bring the band directly over your head, without lifting your ribcage or excessively pulling the band apart. Find your end range, back the tension off and repeat until your shoulders are loose.

Band External Rotation

This one Eric Cressey calls the “no money” exercise because it looks like you just dug into your pockets and came up empty; however it is a great way to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder.

Grab the band with your wrist straight and an underhand grip. Keep your shoulders and rib cage down, pull the band apart while keeping your elbows tucked by your side the whole time and control the resistance in both directions.

A little mobility goes a long way and if you are consistent with the exercises it will pay huge dividends during your season.

For further explanation about the tips mentioned above check out the videos on the Prep2Prep Sports YouTube Channel.

Interested in learning more about my training programs? Prep2Prep athletes can get two free initial sessions including an athletic assessment. Contact doug@riseabovestrength.com

Also check out DougFioranelli.com and sign up for my free newsletter for more training articles and videos.

Bio: Doug Fioranelli is the owner of Rise Above Performance Training™ (est. 2008) where he uses personal, progressive programming to increase his athletes’ performance and reduce their risk for injury. He has over 13 years of experience in strength training, conditioning and athletic rehabilitation. He has coached many adult clients and athletes from middle school to Olympic and Professional level.

Training: RiseAboveStrength.com

Blog: DougFioranelli.com

Twitter: @RiseAboveGym

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