Shoulder Health

Crossover Symmetry (you know, those bands that are on the wall) – the basics and why you should be doing this 3-4x a week

In the initial weeks/months of a resistance-training program (lifting weights, high intense exercise), strength gains happen faster than any muscle can grow. Therefore, more muscle mass cannot be the source of daily PRs. Rather, it’s the improved efficiency of your nervous system to signal your muscles to be used more effectively.

At first glance, the Crossover Symmetry System seems to be a very straight forward program for warming up and strengthening weak muscles of the shoulder. The simple theory is that a weak shoulder leads to a painful shoulder is easy enough to understand and generally holds some truth. However, this one-dimensional view has led to exercise prescriptions for shoulder pain that unfortunately don’t work very well, along with warm-ups that leave strength gains on the table. Meaning, just lifting dumbbells is not the only thing to do. A core component of Crossover Symmetry is consistent repetition of movements needed for developing overhead strength, power and speed.

For the exercise we do, done at moderate to high intensity, injuries can occur and this is often related to muscular imbalances of the scapular stabilizers, under conditioned or tired rotator cuff muscles, and/or poor shoulder posture leading to a breakdown of shoulder mechanics.

Our message! Don’t sit on the sideline because your shoulders suck, fix the dysfunction. Which is why you will see it in some warm ups and really should be done every 2nd day, if not every day you train.

Now, some important science. The first issue for us is the breakdown of the connection between the scapula and humerus. The scapula or scap, is also known as the shoulder blade. This is the foundation upon which all upper extremity strength and function is built. If the scapula muscles are functioning sub-optimally due to weakness, imbalance, or lack of neuromuscular control, the shoulder complex will lose energy and create a poor foundation for the arm. For many athletes, an imbalance in the upper trap, comparative to the lower/mid trap, results in limitations in the ability to upwardly rotate the scapula when going overhead and sets the shoulder up for injury with repetitive overhead movement. The Crossover Symmetry system corrects the issues in these scapular stabilizers, plus the other 17 muscles that attach to the scapula, through a variety of functional movement patterns.

A second issue for athletes relates to problems with the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles that are responsible for keeping the humeral head centered in the socket during arm movement (think of the ball (arm) and socket (body) like a golf ball sitting on a tee). The Crossover Symmetry system facilitates rotator cuff strength, endurance and motor control to help the shoulder slide and glide through the socket even under high workloads seen during workouts.

Finally, forward shoulder posture plagues our society and wrecks good shoulder position. Time spent working at a desk, driving, texting, eating and other typical sedentary activities in our day result in a chronic state of shoulder impingement which inhibits good overhead movement. The Crossover Symmetry system does incorporate active stretching for the shorted pectoralis minor and strengthens the muscles that support the thoracic spine, both major issues seen in those with the dreaded forward shoulder position.

These bands are meant to train movement patterns, not only isolated muscle groups. Strength certainly does increase with continual use, but the primary focus is developing the coordination among muscle groups to accomplish more complex movement tasks, like throwing, swimming, and of course, the stuff that we do, Olympic lifting and gymnastics movements.

The Crossover Symmetry System creates an easy solution for increasing consistency around arm care. We apply the minimum effective dose to a short series of exercises, for a program that only takes approximately 5 minutes to complete each day.