Archive for October, 2012

Loosen Up Those Stiff Shoulders

Shoulder joints can be the most temperamental part of the entire body.  One day they are feeling fine as you throw the football around with your buddies then you find they leave you in a dilapidated state the next day.  Shoulders can also be fickle because with their seemingly limitless range of motion (ROM) what moves well in one direction may come to a screeching halt in another.  This could be due to several factors like: postural considerations, using them more repetitively in one direction more than another and past and present injury concerns.

In last month’s video post I demonstrated several ways to mobilize and strengthen the shoulder joint using bands.  Those movements work well to get a relatively healthy shoulder moving the way it is intended and to strengthen the joint through the various angles of movement.  But what if the problem is more chronic and needs something more than a quick warm up or basic intermittent exercises?

Chances are if you use your shoulders frequently in a sport setting (i.e. volleyball, tennis, baseball pitching etc.) there is going to be some inhibition in certain ROMs and possibly some imbalances between the two sides.

The most common degradation for shoulder mobility is found in shoulder flexion with the inability to properly raise the arm completely overhead without assistance of other muscles and manipulation of other joints.  These other joints and muscles can try to compensate for the shoulder’s lack of flexion and provide a false ROM but the end result is that the shoulder actually fatigues more quickly.

Limited flexibility mainly comes from the muscles that assist in performing movement.  With multiple repetitions performed in a sport setting it is likely to assume that some muscles surrounding the shoulder joint have become shorter and some have become longer and therefore inhibit motion.  The band mobility and strengthening drills mentioned earlier will help rectify those problems

If the movement inhibition is the result of an injury sustained or chronic overuse, along with the muscles imbalances, there is a good chance that the joint capsule is the culprit.  The joint capsule is the cause of about 50% of a healthy person’s lack of ROM comes from tightness of the joint capsule (1).  Common static stretching alone does not specifically address these tight joint capsules most effectively.

To stretch out a joint capsule you are going to need some sort of force component that creates a traction-like effect; the bands work well to do this.

If you have chronically tight shoulder joints and have ruled out a serious injury like a labral or rotator cuff tear then check out the video below and see how I like to use the band to traction my tight shoulders.


1) Johns, R.J., and V. Wright. Relative Importance of Various Tissues in Joint Stiffness. Journal of Applied Physiology, 17(5), 824-828, 1962.


Kettlebell Get Up and Farmer Walk Series

I tore a muscle in my arm about a year ago and I was able to rehabilitate it fairly successfully.  I have full range of motion and my maximal strength is comparable to my other side, however, I notice it does fatigue at a faster rate than the other side.

To increase my muscular endurance in my shoulders I have been doing a kettlebell get up and overhead farmer walk combination.  In this video I will show you what I do so you can increase your shoulder strength and endurance.

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Third Annual One-Hour Long Cycle Charity Event

I can hardly believe three years has come and gone and along with it the Third Annual One-Hour Long Cycle Charity event.

What started out as a simple birthday celebration for Jason Dolby of the Orange Kettlebell Club (OKC) three years ago has grown into something much larger than he had ever imagined and he is glad that it did.

The First Long Cycle Charity Event started with a modest 19 lifters willing to give it a try and to raise money for Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles where Jason had worked helping children for a few years.

It seemed like none of us knew what would happen or whether or not we would even be able to complete the full hour without passing out or having our arms fall off in the process.  All of the lifters made it, and a nice contribution to Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles was made and there was a spark about to ignite a large fire that would continue to grow.

The Second Annual One Hour Long Cycle Event was bigger than the first with 38 participants ranging from recreational kettlebell lifters to record setting world champions.  More weight was lifted, more reps were completed and more money raised for the Japanese Tsunami relief efforts.

This year the event evolved into something much larger and along with it came much more in terms of participation, donations and positive energy.  This year’s event was full of firsts.

This was the first year we left our cozy state of California and headed north to Seattle, Washington with the event being held at Excellence Gym.  The excitement of travel was outshined by the number of satellite gyms and athletes participating in the event simultaneously.  Lifters in New York, Colorado, Los Angeles, Japan and Singapore all lifted and sweated for the full hour.  We were linked via computer and we felt like we were just in the other room.

There were many more lifters participating this year due to the addition of the relay event where a team of lifters would trade off doing reps two minutes at a time and then rest while the others went down the line.

In Seattle alone we had 60 relay lifters in addition to the 12 solo lifters; quite a growth from the humble beginnings from a few years back. The relay team addition was also the right push to get four more clients from Rise Above Performance Training to participate with me.  Jen completed the full hour by herself and the power relay team of Mark, Reggie and Debra did great with the 16kg kettlebell alternating turns every two minutes.  I am very proud of them for their dedication to come in during the weekends for extra training and for taking time out of their schedules to travel up to Seattle to participate in the event.

Along with the growing interest in the event globally and here at the gym there was an increase in donations towards this year’s cause. This year we raised money for the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance which conducts research to find a cure for Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC).  TSC is a rare genetic disease that causes noncancerous (benign) lesions to grow in many parts of the body, such as the skin, brain and kidneys. The signs and symptoms of tuberous sclerosis vary — from patches of light-colored skin to seizures or behavior problems — depending on where the lesions develop.  There’s no cure for tuberous sclerosis, and there’s no way to predict the course or severity of the disease.

Like the last two years this donation was a personal decision by the Orange Kettlebell Club (OKC) because a fellow kettlebell lifter, Howie Brewer’s son, Anthony, has TSC.  It is because of the TSC Alliance that Anthony is able to get the treatment he needs to lead a full and happy life.

I feel very blessed to not only have a few people come to lift with me this year, but to all who donated to the cause.  Rise Above Performance Training was able to donate $1,500 towards the $5,000 total the event raised.  I want to thank you all for your support and generosity towards this cause.

It is very easy to get sucked into the daily need of our lives and we forget that there is much more out there for us to unite and assist in making small steps to helping people obtain the basic joys in life that we can easily take for granted.

I am glad there are people out there like Jason Dolby, John “Wild” Buckley and Nazo of the Orange Kettlebell Club (OKC) who are able to use their power of influence to get people to come together, take something we all enjoy doing and use it as a powerful tool to help others who need people’s support.

I am also glad there are people like the Rise Above Performance Training members who didn’t hesitate to help out and support.

I plan on doing this event until I am physically unable and I know each year I will be amazed about how much it has grown and how many people we are able to help.  I hope to be lifting right next to you one of those years.

Think about it…You have one year to train.

Check out the Hi-Lights Video below:


Sunday, October 28th, 2012 Kettlebell Training, Videos 3 Comments


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