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

 

6 replies
  1. Patrick
    Patrick says:

    These are some very useful drills Dave. Do you have any recommendations for passive stretching methods which can be used alongside these to develop better range of motion and control. I have a number of gymnasts which are very tight around the shoulders.

    Reply
    • Dave
      Dave says:

      Hey Patrick, thanks for checking out the website I greatly appreciate it. I have a few posts on shoulder mobility exercises I do, but look out for the second part of the post series I put up today. It’s going to talk all about overhead mobility issues I see commonly in gymnastics and how I try to go about working with them. Thanks again!

      – Dr. Dave

      Reply
  2. Mark
    Mark says:

    Hey Dave, since I have to treat more male gymnasts with shoulder problems, I would be very interested in part 2 of this post. Did I miss it ?
    Greetings from Switzerland !

    Reply
    • Dave
      Dave says:

      Hey Mark,
      You didn’t miss Part 2, it’s in the hopper for articles over the next few months. Got a lot going on lately and studying for some big tests, seems like not enough hours in the day! All the shoulder articles I have written with focus on females are still very relevant to male gymnasts, so those may help. Thanks for for following and hope it helps! – Dave

      Reply
  3. Nick
    Nick says:

    Hi Dave, have you had much experience with gymnasts who have had shoulder stabilisations, or even capsular shift? I’ve had both :S and as you can imagine, it’s restricted overhead movement (shoulder flexion a LOT). Other than supine weighted flexion, do you have any drills I can use to get at least some ROM back? I’m 3.5 years post-op on the most recent shoulder and have gone from 45 degrees flexion – woeful! – to about 170. It’s that last bit that’s proving to be ….difficult.
    Any advice appreciated.

    Reply
    • Dave
      Dave says:

      Hi Nick. Sorry to hear about your shoulder! I have had experience with those who have undergone capsular shift procedures. That one gets pretty tricky, as there can be a ton of reasons contributing to the limited motion. Some possible factors include the actual capsular mobility and amount of tightening that occurred in surgery, soft tissue limitations, smaller strength deficits, and adjacent areas like the spine being stiff. Really hard to know without a full movement assessment, and could actually cause harm giving out advice on something specific without an eval. I would suggest checking out some local sports PT’s and seeing if they can take a look at those things. Best of luck! – Dave

      Reply

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