Overhead shoulder mobility is a concern for those participating in Olympic lifting, Crossfit and overhead sports. A common issue that restricts full elevation and may lead to shoulder dysfunction is tightness and trigger points in the latissimus dorsi. Performing soft tissue compression and release techniques prior to activity will help improve overhead motion and shoulder health.

    Begin in standing grasping the frame of a squat rack. You may also elect to hold both handles of a TRX. Next, slowly squat down and lean back allowing the shoulders to move into flexion. Once in position, the trainer or workout partner will use the Stick to apply pressure and roll up and down along the latissimus especially working on the soft tissue near the shoulder.

    Perform this technique for 30-60 seconds and then switch sides. Adjust pressure and location based on feedback from the client.

    This exercise allows for soft tissue work in a stretched position for the muscle. Alleviating tightness and myofascial restrictions will be especially helpful for pitchers, swimmers, tennis players and those frequently engaging in overhead squats, snatches, and other overhead lifts. Optimal shoulder mobility will lower the risk of impingement. in addition, adequate shoulder mobility reduces stress on the lumbar spine as lumbar hyperextension is a common compensation seen for poor shoulder mobility.

    Alternative method:
    If a training partner is unavailable to perform this specific technique, consider using a tennis ball while standing with one arm elevated overhead and leaning into the ball. Position the elevated arm/side of the body against the wall, and move the body/ball to perform compression and rolling over the latissimus.

    Brian Schiff,PT, OCS, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor for Athletes' Performance at Raleigh Orthopaedic in Raleigh, NC. Brian conducts live continuing education webinars and presents nationally at professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention, rehab and sport-specific training. For more information on his products and services, visit