Quick Test: What Does Actual Shoulder Mobility Look Like?

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor

A key component in maintaining strong, healthy shoulder joints is understanding how to differentiate between using actual shoulder mobility v. other joints to compensate for a lack of shoulder mobility.

As the above photos demonstrate, more than one joint can be used to reach arms overhead. Many of us mistakenly believe we are strictly using shoulder mobility to accomplish this motion. The first photo shows someone reaching arms overhead to touch the wall behind them. At a glance this might look like fantastic shoulder mobility, but take a closer look at what is happening at the rib cage. It moved away from the wall to help move the arms further overhead. Once the end of actual shoulder mobility is reached, rib cage thrusting can help us achieve further movement without using the shoulders but using the low back instead. 

Is this a problem? Not always. But if you are looking to improve actual shoulder joint mobility, compensating with rib cage thrusting bypasses the...

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Let's Talk About Hamstring Stretching

Let’s talk about hamstring stretching...

The hamstrings are a large muscle group running up the back of the thigh that attach below the knee and to the base of the pelvis. Hamstring mobility is so important because walking, core stability, and the ability to get on and off the floor all depend on the positioning of the pelvis. Tight hamstrings (caused by lots of time spent sitting) keep the pelvis in a tucked position that is not great for optimal pelvic and core health. 

There are several different ways in which the hamstrings can be stretched. The most common one we see is the forward bend.

There is more than one way to perform a forward bend, however the point of a hamstring stretch is to change the length of the hamstrings. Therefore movement should be from the pelvis and not the spine.


A compensation we commonly see for tight hamstrings is an excessive rounding of the spine (picture 1). In this scenario, the spine is being over-stretched while there is not much...

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Movement Tips to Avoid Back Pain During Pregnancy

More than two-thirds of pregnant women report low back pain and up to one-fifth report pelvic pain during pregnancy. Reports of pain tend to increase later in pregnancy and interfere with daily activities, sleep, and work (3). About 20% of women who experience low back or pelvic pain during pregnancy report persistent pain for up to 3 years following pregnancy (2).

Chronic pain is complicated and much research has revolved around the term “pain catastrophizing”. Catastrophizing is a process of becoming fixated on pain, magnifying the effects of it, feeling helpless, and expecting negative outcomes associated with pain. Research shows that those who catastrophize are more likely to develop persistent chronic pain and disability. Women who demonstrated pain catastrophizing during their pregnancy were found to be less likely to have been active throughout their pregnancy and more likely to develop persistent pain after (2).

The recommendation of daily physical activity...

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Normal Aging of the Spine and Low Back Pain

When it comes to back pain, we often hear phrases like “the doctor says I have the spine of an 80 year old” or “there is nothing that can be done about my back pain, it is just old age”. It is completely normal for the spine to begin to change as we age. However, these changes in the spine do not automatically lead to limited mobility and pain. On the other hand, age can cause an increase low back pain for a variety of other reasons. About one in three older adults will experience low back pain. Normal changes in the spine that come with age include postural changes, decrease in strength, changes within the joints, and decreased flexibility. These factors are most likely to contribute to back pain, but are also easily changed.

So am I more likely to have back pain as I age?

The majority of low back pain in older adults is not due to a specific pathology, such as fracture, and is diagnosed as non-specific low back pain. Degenerative changes on...

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Does Flexibility Matter?

We are often asked if stretching is an essential component of a fitness program to prevent injuries. Flexibility, also known as range of motion, is important at any age. But not only is it important to maintain range of motion, to prevent future injury one must also have muscle strength to control their flexibility. There is a very fine balance between keeping the motion of the joints and strength of the muscles in balance. Too much flexibility contributes to reliance on ligaments instead of muscle strength, leading to unstable joints. For a great example, think of how little kids play in a deep squat position for a long amount of time. It takes a lot of muscle strength to stay in that position as well as lower body flexibility to get there in the first place. We are born with a great range of motion, but we tend to lose it as our movement patterns change as we age.

Flexibility prevents your tissues from becoming stiff, allowing you to use certain movement patterns. For...

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