I see a lot of shoulder dysfunction in my line of work, because I work with CrossFit athletes who do a lot of overhead lifting. Optimal shoulder function for overhead work requires both mobility and stability, each of which is required to a greater extent depending on the type of overhead work being done. Shoulder mobility is the foundation of overhead movement like vertical pushing and pulling and is mediated by optimal scapular function. Shoulder stability for holds, carries or overhead movements using a wider grip such as a snatch or overhead squat requires voluntarily limiting that mobility to create a shoulder “bracing” effect, much like voluntarily limiting lumbar spine mobility to brace for squats and deadlifts.
Wall slides are a popular exercise for scapular stability, and different variations of these are great for creating awareness of the two functional positions of the shoulder that are required for overhead work. I prefer wall-facing variations of wall slide, because I find that the back-to-the-wall versions results in people over-retracting the scapulae, which prevents their natural, multiplanar movement.
Listen now to hear more about the two functional positions you need to own and how to develop them.