Thaddeus Mobility Blog 2.1

Mobility 2.1: Shoulder mobility.

In the previous mobility seminar we covered the basics of mid-line stability and the prerequisites to effective mobility work. Proper movement mechanics, creating stability and addressing problems up- & downstream all deserve as much, if not more, attention then the eventual mobility work.

Most shoulder issues encountered in CrossFit exist in the front rack and overhead position. They are the result of either overtension (being in a good position but overly tight) or open circuit faulting (being in a bad position, creating a dysfunctional position of stability) and are therefore preventable. That is right; with a little extra work you can prevent all issues that are not traumatic or pathological!

The good position for your shoulder joint and complete shoulder girdle (neck, chest, collarbone, shoulder and shoulder blade) are taught in fundamentals and highlighted in every skill & drill part of your WOD. Usually you position your shoulder “on the shelf” by creating a bit of external rotation, keep an “active shoulder” by resisting any force that is applied to the shoulder girdle and focus on the proper “lockout”.

The bad position is usually the complete opposite of what any of these cues want you to attain. You will get into internal rotation, have an elevated shoulder girdle that is off the shelf or fail to get to a functional lockout. Not only does this create extra tension on any soft tissue that might be involved (muscles, tendons, joint capsule, ligaments), it also creates an inferior and dysfunctional position of stability that will soon crumble under increased demands of repetitions, load or intensity.


Rich Froning, Central East

Even the champ can still use a little work on the ideal front rack position


You will be able to spot this bad positioning in the hardest part of a movement. It might be at the bottom of a dip or push up, or the top of any press or overhead movement. Save yourself a lot of useful time by checking your movement mechanics and positions of stability first. Do not waste your time mobilizing anything you have just put into a bad position, or under unnecessary high tension. Practice makes perfect and often resolves problems up- & downstream in an instant.


When you have successfully addressed issues like this, a tailored approach to mobilizing is essential. You want to mimic as many characteristics of the movements you encounter issues in and work on the piece of the puzzle that is holding you back the most. As a test and retest, the rack position, a PVC overhead pass through or an overhead squat are good options. If you don’t feel or see change, there is no change.


Show up early for your WOD to do some contract-relax, (banded) flossing or (banded) distraction. We will give you instructions if you are not sure how to do this. After the WOD, use a foam roller or monkey ball to do some pressure wave or smashing of soft tissue and work the wonders of effective mobility. Spending at least two minutes mobilizing in the position of restriction is the minimum requirement to initiate changes in soft tissue. This might sound long if your mobilizing used to start at the count of 3, 2, 1, GO! But I guarantee it will be a very effective performance enhancer.



Thaddeus Knops first studied human movement sciences, before taking up sports physiotherapy and manual therapy. Since December 2013 he gets his ass handed to him every single WOD. After completing the Level 1 course, he will now occasionally share his thoughts on performance enhancement through anything other than a regular WOD.

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