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Category: Stretching

Safely Reaching the Arms Overhead

Are you one of those people who likes to do overhead barbell pressing… but has no business pressing a barbell overhead?

How do you get your arms overhead? How do your clients get their arms overhead? Do you have the range of motion to do it safely? Or are you just overloading your back and irritating your shoulders?

I don’t want to sit here and pretend to tell you that I have the magic answer. It doesn’t work like that.

What I CAN offer you, however, is some insight on some of the things that have seemed to work for me… even the things that are a little counterintuitive.

Today we’ll discuss some things that have helped my clients safely perform overhead work.

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Do you have any really great IT band stretches?

A friend reached out the other day asking me if I have any great IT band stretches or hints for rolling out the IT band. She wanted to know prior to beginning her training for a half marathon.

So I am of the belief that stretching the IT band does nothing because it never changes things over the long term. The number one way I address it is by addressing pelvic positioning. You’ll usually see glutes that don’t allow the hip to come back into the socket. The primary attachment of the glute is the IT band. Also of consideration is the tensor fascia lata (TFL). If the hip can’t stay seated in the socket, you’ll also notice an overactive TFL. Both of these lead to IT band tightness and both of these are left unaddressed by IT band stretching. It can assist your program, but it alone is not enough. The learning component of the new position or “tone” is just not there.

Here’s an example of a tight IT band, an exercise I prescribed this particular client, and the results of it afterward. Look at hip position and how her head an neck don’t move reciprocal and then DO move reciprocally some of the time.

A key talking point here is that the exercise I give each person is generally different. There are some I could just give everyone, and I might still do that if I want to “play it safe” or “cover all my bases” if I think the client has the patience for it. Just about all the time, however, I am evaluating each person and giving them an exercise based on what I deem they need. Faster results means more time for the cool stuff.

Header photo credit: Allen Tucker

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