Rib Cage Position with Overhead Movements

We’ve all seen it bad overhead movement, and every one of us as functional fitness coach has been guilty of allowing varying degrees of it at times. You know the sight. The athlete jerking the weight overhead, elbows flaring outward, low back arched to the gills, just an absolute horror show of movement pattern.

The reason that this occurs is most typically a result of taking a thoracic spine that has absolutely no interest or ability in accommodating something being lifted overhead. If the thoracic spine cannot properly extend, then a series of chain reactions in the body will take place.

  1. The low back is the great compensator. If the upper back cannot get into proper position, the low back will hyperextend to allow the path of the barbell to continue moving upward.
  2. When this occurs, the rib cage will then have an upward flare to it. When the ribs flare up, the abs cease to be involved in the movement providing no trunk stability whatsoever 
  3. A flaring rib cage then creates a pattern fault for the regular gliding nature of the scapulae.
  4. The fault line in the scapulae then creates poor position for the humerus (upper arm bone).
  5. Alas, there is great stress on the ball and socket joint of the shoulder, and we develop repetitive movement pattern that sets yourself up to one day reveal an injury that’s probably two years in the making.

This is how injuries happen. It’s not just a children’s song. “The arm bone’s connected to the, neck bone.” If your lower back or shoulders are routinely sore from overhead pressing, it could very well mean that the first check point on this is taking place, as well as everything on the list that follows.

Overhead pressing has no business creating chronic lumbar soreness, so if you feel this is you then please, PLEASE proactively switch to dumbbells or ask a coach to watch you specifically for this reason.

Barbells are wonderful but up overhead, they don’t make sense for everyone, especially those who are limited in their mobility. It’s not a regression for you to use an alternate device or movement pattern, it’s called self preservation.


Friday, 9.25.20


25 Minutes:
6 Push Press
10 Goblet Rev. Lunge to Step Up
12 Quadruped Renegade Row
200m Run EOR

20 SA Tricep Kickbacks
10 Plate Curls