Although I do spend more time in women’s gymnastics, I want to start offering more information to help take care of the male gymnasts out there. Growing up and training, I had my fair share of injuries and wished that I had some ways to proactively work on some of my movement issues. One of the biggest issues I get emails or questions about for male gymnasts are ways to prevent shoulder injuries. I’ll be completely honest, I was not much of a ring/high bar guy and didn’t have nearly as many shoulder problems as I did lower body problems. That being said, I have been around and trained with a ton of friends/teammates that pretty much destroyed their shoulders over years of training. Over 3 posts, I wanted to offer a hand full of drills that I think may be very beneficial for male gymnasts if they learn early and build regularly into training.
Men’s gymnastics skills require a huge amount of shoulder mobility, many times in extreme ranges of motion. I think it’s crucial that male gymnasts first develop active control of these full ranges safely. That doesn’t mean just passively hanging on rings, or having someone crank on their shoulders all the time. Although their is value in increasing range through dynamic stretching, a male gymnast must have unweighted full range control of these motions before they are loaded with body weight traction, compression, or momentum forces.
First, it’s important that we have some basic soft tissue care and rotator cuff strength drills before we go into lots of mobility specific work.
From there more active mobility drills can be utilized week to week. Here are 5 of my favorite drills that can help develop active shoulder mobility that is seen in many skills like jams, diamidov’s, ring strength sequences, and so on.
The drills in the video were,
1. Seated Wall Slide Sequence
2. Quadriped CARs (see FRC system for more info)
3. Ruperts Loaded Mobility Rotation Drill (Props to Rupert for all his help!)
4. Prone Floor Bar Lift Off’s and Overhead Press
For any gymnast, rehab professional, or coach out there I would give those a try and see how it works. If they are very challenging try putting them in before workouts, in a prehab circuit on deloaded trainin days, or give them to gymnasts as some homework. Although these seem a little tedious, I think this is a crucial first step to prepare the shoulder complex for high force skills. Hope this was helpful,
– Dr. Dave Tilley DPT, SCS