Shoulder health and function is a deep and complex topic. There is a lot of stuff at play here and not just what's happening at the gleno-humeral joint. That's the ball and socket joint of our upper arm.
Today we are talking about scapula (shoulder blade) upward rotation and a little protraction. Something that I feel is the missing element in a lot of our training.
Often times our exercise selection and execution lets us down and doesn't allow for full range of motion, control and function of the scapula. The Serratus Anterior is the forgotten muscle in all of this. It runs from ribs 1-8(9) and attaches along the anterior medial border of our scapula. It works to protract and upwardly rotate the scap, something vital for shoulder health and function especially when reaching overhead. We tend to do a lot of pressing movements with our scapula depressed and/or retracted. Whether we should or not is another topic of its own. In my opinion it sets up an ideal place to press from when trying to bench press a tonne but it's not ideal for complete shoulder function. In addition, a lot of our rowing based exercises are often executed poorly or with limited range when looking for protraction of the scapula, retraction is typically fine because it's been so drummed into us. The reason we need upward rotation is to allow space for the humeral head and supraspinatus to do its thing when we elevate our arm to go overhead. Basically we are pointing the glenoid joint skyward to assist the humerus. Without it, the humerus has to work harder for that range of motion and impingement can rear its head.
This is where the Landmine Press really makes it's mark. Unlike back supported pressing movements our Scapula is free to move. When performed correctly the exercise promotes the desired upward rotation and protraction and engages our serratus anterior. A little golden nugget is that even though the Landmine Press starts at roughly 45 degrees, almost like an incline bench, the fact that we are free to move and tilt our trunk means we can lean and reach into the movement, with upward rotation, until we are practically overhead. The perfect scenario. While we are at it, the opposite movement is also a great movement. I call it the high cable row and typically perform it half-kneeling or in a split stance. With the cable at around 45 degrees we can reach towards the cable and be pulled into upward rotation and protraction before we row the weight. It's another great movement to add to the mix. Check the videos below on how to do both these awesome movements.