Attention swimmers, pitchers, cross-fitters. Having some shoulder pain? Swimmers, feel like you can’t complete your reach and are short arming your stroke? Pitchers, do you have constant shoulder and elbow pain? Cross-fitters, are you having trouble getting your shoulder in the proper position on an overhead squat?
We recently did a social media post with a foam roller drill and exercise that addresses two muscles that can be involved in shoulder pain or a decrease in shoulder mobility.
The latissimus dorsi is a stronger shoulder adductor when the shoulder is somewhat externally rotated. It is a stronger shoulder extensor when the shoulder is neither, internally or externally rotated. The latissimus dorsi does not extend the shoulder beyond anatomical position (shoulder hyperextension). The latissimus dorsi muscle is a large flat muscle of the back. It has several attachment points on the back of the body, which can vary for each person. The muscle blends with the thoracolumbar fascia of the lower back and spans out to attach to the iliac crest of the hip, the lower ribs, and the spinous processes of lower thoracic vertebrae.
The teres major muscle is positioned superior to the latissimus dorsi muscle and assists in the extension and medial rotation of the humerus. As the teres major gets tight and shortened from overuse and throwing, you can start to see changes in scapulohumeral motion. When assessing someone, you may see that the scapula looks like it wants to upwardly rotate more on the throwing side, which is attributed to the teres major shortening and not allowing proper separation of scapula and humeral arm movement. The tight teres major drags the scapula up with the arm because the two can’t separate.
It looks like the person is achieving good arm elevation but realistically they are just compensating with more scapular upward rotation. If you look closely, you’ll even notice that they are elevating the arm less and upwardly rotating their scapula more. This is probably going to cause some impingement and irritation to the shoulder.
This is similar to the feeling a swimmer gets when they can’t fully complete their reach phase of their swim stroke and cross fitter when they can’t fully get their arm to full extension on an overhead press.
Both the lat and teres major function to perform shoulder extension, adduction, cross body adduction, and internal rotation. These are the exact motions in throwing.
Nothing takes the place of a proper assessment and figure out the structural and functional flaws in biomechanics, but there are things your can do at home to address these issues.
Check out our video below as Dr. T. talks through how to foam roll for recovery.