Let’s talk a bit today about improving or regaining shoulder internal rotation (IR). We talk alot about the importance of shoulder external rotation to help “set” the shoulder deeper into the socket for any pressing movements, get the elbows higher in your front squat rack position, or keep the shoulders from going slack anytime we’re hanging from a bar. Oftentimes we neglect shoulder IR, perhaps because we strive so hard to keep our shoulders from internally rotating in the movements mentioned above, and find ourselves with shoulder pain or impingement because we’re lacking IR when we need it elsewhere. Movements like dips and the second pull of the snatch and clean require shoulder IR and if it’s lacking the shoulder will default to a really compromising position to compensate. As with most mobility issues I’m going to defer to Kelly Starrett, licensed Physical Therapist, owner of San Francisco CrossFit, and most well known in the CrossFit community for his work at MobilityWOD.com. The two videos below are from his MobilityWOD.com site on days where he specifically discussed improving shoulder IR. He provides logic behind keeping the shoulder well balanced, various stretching options, and target areas worthy of soft tissue work to open up the shoulder even more. Check out the two videos below and work his magic into your free time if you feel you’re lacking shoulder IR.

Another resource I value is Mike Reinold, licensed Physical Therapist who not only runs his own practice in the Boston area but also posts excellent information and resources on his website MikeReinold.com. If you’ve been with us a while you’ve likely been introduced to the “sleeper” stretch seen here:

However, Mike recently posted that he using the sleeper stretch less and less with his athletes because it places added stress on the posterior capsule of the shoulder, puts the shoulder into an impingement position, and people are typically way too aggressive with the stretch and tend to do more harm than good. He later posted some very effective alternatives to improving shoulder IR that don’t have the same issues as the sleeper stretch, and in fact have been shown to be more effective when coupled with the contract-relax technique or muscle energy technique (MET) as it’s referred to in the studies Mike cites in his posts above. Sounds like a win-win to me so give these two extremely short videos a look to get a few other alternatives to improve shoulder IR.

WOD 1.11.12

Back Squat 3×5/Wendler

For Time:
48 Pistols
24 Toes to Bar


20 Power Cleans (Grace weight)
30 Box Jumps

Break up each couplet however you want. You must finish one couplet before you move to the next one.

Cash out with strict pull ups, time permitting.

4 Responses to “Shoulder Internal Rotation Mobility Resources”

Brady Held
January 11, 2012 at 10:08 AM

I’ve shared this with a few of you but its too good not to post:

Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”

-1 large head cauliflower
-1 pack of cubed pancetta (I got mine at Trader Joe’s and I really hope its legal for W30… forgot to check)
-Minced Garlic

-Steam cauliflower until tender
-While steaming, saute diced pancetta until almost crisp
-put cauliflower in mixing bowl and mash with a whisk (if you want it smooth you can use a food processor, but more cleanup this way and I don’t find it necessary.)
-Add 1 tsp-1 tbsp of minced garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)to mixing bowl
-Add 1 tbsp of ghee to mixing bowl
-Add pancetta including rendered fat to mixing bowl
-Mix it all up
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-Thank me

January 11, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Great post Sean! On a related topic…anything out there we can do for the elbow? I tend to have lingering elbow issues on certain movements i.e. press. Thanks!

January 11, 2012 at 9:24 PM

Brady, the cauliflower mash was amazing! Thanks for the recipe!

January 14, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Thank you!! Great recipie.