There are prerequisites for overhead lifting. CrossFit and other types of group training have done a wonderful thing for the sedentary population, motivating and mobilizing people to become more active. However, many previously sedentary individuals have started doing a lot of overhead work which they had not been accustomed to do previously. In our day to day, we don’t work overhead much, much less with a load. If you picture putting dishes away on the highest cupboard shelf, even that is not full range overhead movement. When people jump into overhead activity, they sometimes don’t have the prerequisites for loading or lifting in this position.
Prerequisites for overhead lifting involve thoracic extension, scapula upward rotation, and proper head and anterior core positioning. To bring the shoulder into full flexion, we require thoracic extension all the way down to the sixth thoracic vertebra, which makes it important to screen the thoracic spine to see if it can get into extension. Overhead movement also requires 60 degrees of scapular upward rotation, which can be screened using the shoulder abduction test. The standing shoulder flexion test is valuable in providing a lot of information regarding overhead capacity. As the individual raises the arms forward, we can appreciate head, thoracic, scapular and anterior core movement and positioning.
Watch the full video to see how to perform these screens and what to look for!