There is a strong integrated dependence of the hips and their impact upon shoulder function. In many cases of shoulder injury I have evaluated, the shoulder was the victim of tightness in the pelvic complex. The principles of movement have shown us the shoulder joint is dependent upon scapular motion which is influenced by thoracic motion. The thoracic spine is highly dependent upon hip function; therefore, shoulder function is also affected by hip movement. There are a few cues I always tell my clients. First, from the great trochanter of the hip to the top of the head, stand tall. This will improve spinal alignment and allow the abdominal complex a better environment to function. Second, imagine there is a flashlight in the navel. I call it the Beacon of Life. Keep in mind, if rotation is required in the movement pattern, shine the Beacon of Life toward that rotation. Where the pelvis goes, the low back will follow. Third, whenever the movement require an arm reach, reach with the scapula; because where the scapula goes, the humerus will follow.
In the sagittal plane, when the same side hip extends, it will improve shoulder flexion by causing the scapula to depress and slightly retract or adduct. When this happens, the glenoid glides upward to allow the great trochanter on the humerus to have ample clearance to move under the acromion process and reduce the risk of impingement. On the opposite end of the movement spectrum, when the same side hip flexes, that causes the scapula to elevate and slightly protract or abduct and enhances shoulder extension.
In the frontal plane, the same side hip that adducts enhances shoulder abduction on the same side. Likewise, the opposite hip that abducts also improves opposite shoulder abduction. The motion of the hips, cause the thoracic spine to flex laterally, and the scapula reacts with movement in the frontal plane.
In the transverse plane, the opposite hip that has good range of motion into internal or external rotation, will enhance opposite shoulder girdle internal or external rotation. To also look at it another way, the same side hip that has good internal rotation, improves same side shoulder external rotation.
The first video clip of a two-part blog, Tri-Plane Integrated Shoulder Mobility, demonstrates integrated shoulder mobility. Do not think stability and mobility are opposite ends of the movement spectrum. In actuality, they depend upon one another. Under normal, healthy conditions, if there is good mobility, the tissue will load eccentrically and allow an optimal unload concentrically. This will improve functional actions in three planes of motion through the three phases of movement; deceleration (eccentric loading), stabilization (isometric), and acceleration (concentric unloading).
The Tri-Plane Integrated Shoulder Mobility can be modified based upon the limitations, compensations, and idiosyncrasies of the client. Feel free to advise your clients to slow the movements, limit the range of motion and then gradually increase the range, or limit the plane of motion based upon where the client may be limited in movement.
The second part of this blog will discuss tri-plane shoulder stability and will include a video clip called Triangulated Shoulder Press.
Please let us know how this works for your clients. Good luck and to your good health!