Kettlebell & Shoulder Rehab/Performance Program Phase 2

May 24, 2019 | Aaron Crouch, DPT, CSCS, SFG1

Welcome back to the Kettlebell and Shoulder Performance/Rehab program blog, or VLOG (video blog as my wife recently informs me, she’s “in the know”). It would seem that the last two readings/watchings sparked your interest enough to find out the next step. We consider the KB Arm-Bar the foundation for the rest of the program, so your mastery level has to be top notch to feel the benefit going forward. The following several drills will continue to facilitate healthy movement patterns through the shoulder girdle, as well as incorporating other functional lines (read your Anatomy Trains – Thomas Myers please!) for true strengthening. Enjoy the instructional videos to go along with the dynamite text for implementing and coaching the continued progression towards the bulletproof shoulder.

Kettlebell Halos

As demonstrated in the video, the halo incorporates multi-directional movement of the shoulder girdle above and around the head. Although wonderful when done correctly, there are plenty of compensations to be had here, such as bobbing/dipping of the head to make room for the KB, losing an erect neutral spine, and shying away from end range control (just to name a few). Baseline movement criteria needed to be successful include: full overhead reach, SFMA functional non-painful upper extremity top tier, and sufficient thoracic spine extension/rotation ability. The KB Halo provides a safe loaded pattern for upward/downward rotation of scapulo-humeral rhythm, moving in and out of dynamic abduction/external rotation/adduction in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes. ALSO, as if it couldn’t get any better, trunk stability is challenged in ½ kneeling and full kneeling due to raising the center of mass (due to the KB position around the head).

Get-Up 1-4

The Get-Up steps 1-4 were elegantly described in one of our previous blog posts (I suggest reading it!), so there isn’t a whole lot to cover here, other than its placement in the programming. We consider the first half of the Get-Up to be an extension of the KB Arm-Bar, with movement of the thoracic spine under a stationary shoulder girdle. The tall sit position (following supine to elbow transition) is an excellent developer on the way to the Overhead Carry. Although we’re lumping all 4 steps together, each step in the Get-Up can be its own individual progression. Don’t be afraid to spend some quality time finding the exact position for each step and developing the ability to own each step for a longer duration.

Overhead Carry
Developing overhead stability, strength, and performance should be a high priority when developing programs for the upper quarter. HOWEVER, sufficient mobility and patterning through the spine and scapular-humeral complex MUST be present. Check marking the baseline measures laid out in the previous post, as well as time spent developing the Arm-Bar, Halo, and Get-Up 1-4, should prepare yourself, or your client, for a safe transition to overhead work. Whether you’re in your kitchen placing a dish in the top shelf, or an elite overhead athlete, the need for end range upward rotation/posterior tilt control of the shoulder girdle, mid-back integrity, and rotator cuff engagement in this position is paramount to shoulder health longevity. SINGLE ARM overhead carry is the only recommendation here, and I would CAUTION implementing DOUBLE ARM overhead carry due to this being an incredibly difficult skill (not many situations exist that require full bilateral overhead work).

Programming (including previous drills)
The development of these SKILLS follow the same timeline of neuromuscular adaptation as any other exercise/skill. Allow a good 3-4 weeks of focused practice with the Arm-Bar, Halo, Get-up 1-4 (and each stage individually!), and overhead carry before choosing to climb the ladder of heavier load. Here are some sample routines:

**DISCLAIMER: These sample routines are just examples of what programming with the KB could look like. Repetitions and sets, as well as weight utilized, must be assessed for safety and appropriateness according to each individuals skill level. If unsure, seek out a qualified coach/clinician/professional for clearance on required movement criteria and baseline strength.

Hopefully phase 2 of KB Shoulder Rehab/Performance Programming brought some clarity, and was exciting enough to get to this point of the blog (or VLOG). Stay tuned for Phase 3!

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