The shoulder is a complex body part made up of 4 different joints, each of which is vital for proper movement and performance. In my last post, we discussed the importance of scapula (shoulder blade) strength for overhead sports.
Scapula strengthening and flexibility addresses movement at one of the 4 shoulder joints, the scapulothoracic joint, which is where the scapula and thorax (rib cage) meet. When the shoulder blade moves properly over the rib cage, the scapulothoracic joint is performing optimally. Each joint has a significant role in shoulder movement, with the glenohumeral joint playing an integral role.
When the shoulder is discussed in general terms, it is the glenohumeral joint that is often being referenced, the area in which the humeral head (ball) rotates in the glenoid fossa (socket). Two major actions occur at this joint, stability and mobility. When the shoulder complex works properly, the rotator cuff muscles work to stabilize the ball within the socket. Often, however, the soft tissue (muscles, tendons, and capsule) become excessively tight leading to decreased motion of the shoulder.
The most common form of shoulder tightness occurs in the back or posterior shoulder. This is known as glenohumeral internal rotation deficit or more commonly as GIRD. GIRD often occurs with everyday activities, and contributes to various shoulder conditions including rotator cuff strains/ tears and shoulder impingement. GIRD is even more common in baseball, swimming, tennis, and overhead sports and leads to a host of conditions in the shoulder. GIRD’s relationship to preventing and rehabilitating shoulder injuries has been extensively studied and researched. Preventing and correcting GIRD is imperative to properly care, train, and rehabilitate athletes participating in overhead sports.