Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shoulder Health: Protraction vs Retraction

For some reason shoulder misunderstandings tend to annoy me. For instance protraction and internal rotation of the shoulder are not the same thing. It's common that one follows the other but definitely not the same thing.

In this picture protraction would be the arrow pointing fwd/up. Retraction would be the arrow point away from the back.

The shoulder can protract w/o internally rotating, and just b/c a shoulder sits in extreme internal rotation does not mean that it is sitting in protraction. As far as that goes not all internal rotation or protraction is a bad thing. If it were we wouldn't press anything. Try telling that to Mr. Mon Wed Fri Bench Press guy.

You need a certain amount of each and it's the balance between retraction and protraction, same as internal and external rotation of the shoulder, that creates health and performance. Messing w/ this too much can actually mess w/ arm movement in overhead athletes that could be detrimental to their performance. Flying blind is dumb, and that's where assessments, attentiveness, and simply knowing what's going on w/ an athlete's day to day comes into play.

Exercises that protract the shoulder also direct/indirectly internally rotate the shoulder. Not all exercises that work on retraction will externally rotate the shoulder. That's why direct external rotation work should be programmed in for just about everyone and their mothers. Besides the fact that our bodies already gravitate towards protraction and internal rotation.

Mike Reinold's Shoulder W exercise is a great exercise for most athletes. "The exercise combines shoulder external rotation with scapular retraction and posterior tilt, definitely a great combo and advantageous for many people as it recruits the posterior rotator cuff (infraspinatus and teres minor) and the lower trapezius." -Mike Reinold

We need to be strong and healthy up front, that's not the problem in most athletes, but we're setting ourselves up for lots of problems if we don't take care of the opposing side.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Adam. It's very informative. Determining internal vs. external rotation on exercises always confuses me since I can never tell.