Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Shoulder Clickin'

Yesterday, I met a 52 year old man that wanted to learn more about what I can do for him--as his trainer. He complained of an annoying shoulder clicking issue in his right arm, that he said presented no pain--just annoyance. I asked him what he did for a living and what do you know...he is a chained to his desk.

Protracted shoulders are pretty evident in people that sit all day. Gravity has a tendency to usually win battles in people that are weak, sedentary, and immobile (bad combination--more on that in another post). The client usually becomes a "slave" to the seated position and soon enough loses alot of the structural integrity that enables them to be upright.

Have you ever met someone that has been in their job or position for 5, 1, 15+ years? They usually "look" like they have been in that position for that period of time.

Shoulder clicking can be a sign that the kinetic chain structure is becoming compromised. I say "becoming" because if it once wasn't there and is suddenly beginning, or started years into your desk job, chances are the scoreboard reads: Gravity - 90, your body - 0. You lose.

To begin the process of addressing this matter. After a close observation and assessment, we find that the humeri are protracted due to the weak scapular stabilizers, particularly the serratus anterior and lower trapezius. The clicking sound you hear may be the tendon snapping over the head of the humerus --this may due to a slight rotation of the head causing friction during certain movements; or a more serious issue--a tear in the labrum.

So, back to my prospective clients and desk slave... I gave him a easy exercise that he can perform while at work 2-3 times a day. Albeit, he may look funny doing it, I told him to find an isolated office and nail these out in perfect form. I call it "Scap Clock Drill".

The Scap Clock Drill begins by facing an empty wall about 6-14 inches away. The distance from your feet and the wall will really depend on your upper-body strength, coordination, and pain levels. Obviously, the further you stand away from the wall, the more difficult the exercise. SO I suggest you begin 6-8 inches and work your way up. With palms on a smooth wall (make sure they are clean), you are going to slide your hands up and down. The further the hands travel away from the torso, you are going to lean into the wall--without touching it. Once you reach a PAIN-FREE distance, slide your palms back to the starting position. in order to really target the serratus and lower trapezius, try to keep your arms straight. A slight bend in the elbow may be allowed, but try to get in the habit of keeping them locked.

Hopefully, the video will give you an idea of how to perform this drill. It can be used as a warm-up or activation drill before an upper-body workout, or simply to help correct postural issues. I strongly advise to avoid this drill if you present any type of shoulder pain or discomfort. If you present pain already, stick with a scapular push-up.

I wrote an article on this here.


  1. Do you really recommend the scapular p-up over the wall exercise if pain is already present? The p-up places much more strain on the shoulders. The wall places much less.

    I ask because a client this morning couldn't do one single p-up. His shoulder girdle has become locked due to underuse. I'm thinking the wall may be necessary until he gets some mobility.


Thanks for checking out the blog and commenting!