If you are having trouble reaching the arm overhead, then performing exercises such as banded pull apart, or I's, T's, and Y's, will actually hinder the ability to get overhead.
Why can this be?
The scapula sits on top of the ribcage, and must have space between it in order to rotate upwards and create overhead motions.
Compressed Scaps (left) vs Open/Free Space (right)
Exercises, such as the ones mentioned above, actually close the space between the scapula and the ribcage, reducing the ability for it to move, gluing them together.
This is the opposite of what we want to achieve.
The area between the shoulder blades and the ribcage needs to maintain space in order to allow motion to occur, so the the shoulder blade does not get stuck during movements, leading to compensations elsewhere.
Zercher hold with a band could be a good start to open up the space between the shoulder blades. (shown below)
Once you can do that, reestablishing rotation in the shoulder with a kettlebell screw driver can assist be an advancement to help restore overhead motion.
Finally an inverted position can assist in expanding the uppermost parts of the upper back so you can fully reach overhead. Something like a lazy bear (shown below) could be useful.
For more information on how to improve your shoulder mobility or to find out if you are doing things that are preventing it.....
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Dr. Peter Dionisopoulos is the owner and founder of Dynamic Performance & Rehab. He has worked with many high-level athletes and military personnel, but his true passion is to help active adults maintain their lifestyle by providing information and potential solutions to their aches and pains so they can continue with the activities they love.