The video below demonstrates the Overhead Reach Test, which is part 1 of a 5 step Functional Movement Screen I taught to a group of personal trainers. This set of movement tests is designed to identify predispositions to injury so they can be addressed before a problem occurs.

Click here  to be able to choose between all five of the movement screen videos.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION (Please excuse grammatical errors, as this is simply a transcription of conversational speaking)

With the overhead reach, just keep it simple: Not checking every range of motion, but just having them go straight overhead and then at a forty five-degree angle. The first question is: how high can they go?–what’s their range of motion like? Do they get any kind of impingement or block along the way? Or maybe they have a pain in the middle and then it gets better at the top, which is called a “painful arc”. If they’re dealing with any kind of pain, discomfort, a blocking, pinching feeling where they can get above about 150 or 160 degrees, I would really use caution with a lot of overhead presses, or really, really strong forces even below shoulder level,  because quite often, especially in your patient population or your client population that’s middle age to later in life, when they have that impingement or that pain coming up, there’s already some level of fraying or minor tears at the supraspinatus, the rotator cuff tendon, and so if they’re repeatedly even at light forces, pinching on that small tear or if they do a big force using that tendon that small tear can become a big tear and that’s a really long rehab process, so you want to definitely be careful with that.

This is one of the few things we talk about where I’d say if this is going on it should be referred out, simply because there are so many things that could be a part of that issue, not just necessarily the joint or the soft tissues or the scapular mechanics. There are just so many things that can contribute to that being a problem. I would definitely send out to a good therapist if it’s appropriate. You can see how their shoulder blades move. You can get them to do it backwards and slowly lower down. As they lower down see if their scapulas kind of come back into midline fairly symmetrically. What you might see sometimes if there’s an issue with the way that the scapula muscles are working is that they’ll have some scapular winging: They’ll kind of pop out or move differently, and if you see that there’s a dysfunction present.

There’s a lot I’m sure you know about shoulder stability exercises and scapular mechanics. If that’s all that’s going on they have good range of motion, decent strength, no pain, no need to send that one out and just get that scapula moving right.

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