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Professional Boundaries & Good Shoulders

I've two points to talk about today.

One is a question about shoulders, the other is a comment regarding professional boundaries.

Both points have been brought up by clients and members, so I'd like to remind you to send in your questions and comments so they can fuel newsletter content that is relevant to you!

First, Shoulders.


Here's the question:

"As a content suggestion I'd love some shoulder maintenance pointers as an aging long time supporter! I'm pretty sure you've already got that content somewhere perhaps?

I've really had to pay more attention to the old shoulders and want to keep the overhead press going as long as I can! I'm not struggling with the press, but do think about the day when maybe it won't be possible....Still living with the Yanks and surrounded by more corporate types than I'd planned for as we scale things here.

All the best.... "

So, what is the shoulder?

In short you have the humerus or arm bone. You have the Clavicle, or collar bone and you have the scapula, or shoulder blade.

The clavicle goes from the top of your sternum out to meet the humerus and scapula at the shoulder.

The Scap, well he sits on the back of the rib cage and has the big job.

The Scapula glides over the rib cage. It has the most amount of muscle (around 19 attachments) and a load of movement available to to it.

The shoulder joint, usually referring to where the arm meets the body or "glenohumeral joint" is the most mobile joint in the body, it is also one of the most frequently injured through both contact and non contact.

Contact, such as a hit or fall, often separates the bones, sometimes simply "jams up the system"

Non contact can be a gym based lifting pain, it can be repetitive actions or it could be lack of use or a mistiming of the joints.

My top two areas to look at when dealing with the shoulder are the motion of the scapula and the surface it glides over.

We can think of the scap as the car and the rib age the road. We want a smooth road surface to drive over.

How do we affect the road surface?

Usually breathing drills and thoracic mobility drills.

Why breathing?

Simply put, we have several muscles involved in expanding the rib cage so the lungs can expand. The main muscle is the diaphragm. This is where most breath should happen.

But when we need more room to inhale, we need to open the upper chest and even the shoulders. This involves many of the neck muscles.

And what do many of these neck muscles attach to?

You guessed it, the scapula. And the clavicle. And yes, the upper ribs.

Hopefully you are aware of the many posts I've put up on Instagram regarding breathing. I also have an online course in development titled "Breath Gym" that will be available soon. Online courses can be found here: there's two at the moment, with more to come.

Breathing is also covered in the Force of Nature program.

But what about the scapula itself.

Our hero mentions over head pressing.

And I have to say, that features highly in my library of shoulder rehab and injury management.

A good, clean overhead press is fantastic for building resilient shoulders.

As is straight arm work.

Straight Arm work is common in the gymnastic training circles, but less so in standard strength & conditioning / fitness training.

In the kettlebell training world, we should be familiar with the Windmill and the Turkish Get Up

These are great movements that fit into the straight arm category. Both movements have umpteen variations and regressions making them applicable to almost anyone.

A bottoms up Turkish Get up, or half get up, is something special. And will teach you a lot about your shoulders and how they interact with the rib cage and even the pelvis.

Hanging is the next option.

Simply hanging at different angles. Vertically from a pull up bar, horizontally from and inverted row station and everything in between.

These hangs with a straight arm, encourage the scapula to move as the muscles stretch. Hanging also makes it very difficult to utilise the neck and shoulder muscles for breathing, meaning you will have to find your diaphragm or you will feel very uncomfortable very quickly.

Hang for time, a minute is good basic target to aim for. 2 minutes is better. Anything more is great but there does seem to be diminishing returns.

Try finishing your upper body workouts with one to 3 sets of hanging. You'll not regret it.

Professional Boundaries


Just this morning I had a client in my Dungannon clinic talking to me about a session he had with another therapist.

He'd done a couple of sessions with me and wanted to try the Acupuncture fella that is in the same building but also didn't want to offend me.

Here's the thing.

If that offended me, that would have been my problem, not his.

It would also show that my ego was fragile and out of control.

And while I admit to an over inflated ego, I've never been the guy to stop a client going elsewhere.

You see, my skills are not universal. No one's are.

This particular client needed something more passive than I offer. And the Chinese fella across the hall offering Acupuncture turned out to be exactly what he needed. When the client explained what the Acupuncturist did, I could see his thought process was similar to mine, but the methodology was different and in this case, more congruent with the clients needs.

As a coach and therapist, my job is to help clients achieve the results they desire. In the clinic that's often reduction in pain and regaining movement. If I can't supply that, it is only right that we refer out. It is about the client and about their needs.

Not my ego.

If you ever go to a coach, instructor, therapist who claims to be all that, who doesn't allow you go out and work with someone else, you must run away. And run away fast.

Chat soon,

Dave Hedges

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