The Shoulder part I

At CFWSC, we don't let anything stop us from squatting. Neither baby...

...nor split shorts (Chris' 3rd pair done in by heavy squats).

This is the first in a multi-part series on the shoulder by CFWSC coach Jason Highbarger.  Jason was the first CrossFit trainer at the old HQ in Santa Cruz years ago.  He possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with injuries and working with injured athletes.

Have a “Bad Shoulder?”  Read this.

Any serious athlete, regardless of sport or training methodology, will get injured.  These injuries can range from occasional minor discomfort to career ending maledictions.  Lately, several local athletes, myself included, have struggled with shoulder injuries.  Some of the injuries have been recently incurred; whereas others are more chronic in nature.  Now before we get too far along on our “bad shoulder” stories; we should pay respect to what an amazing and complex mechanism the shoulder really is.

The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the human body.  It can lift, pull, push, punch, throw, climb, brachiate, and do pretty much anything else we need it to.  Comprised of 4 joints, 5 bone groups, 2 cartilage types, 11 muscles, and a complex interplay of tendons, ligaments, cartilage, nerves, blood vessels and bursae, the shoulder complex can abduct, adduct, rotate, raise and lower in front and behind the torso and move through 360° in the sagittal plane, allowing for complete global movement and positioning of the hand anywhere in space.

Through the dynamic mobility of the shoulder, we can accomplish truly remarkable feats: from Snatching 199 Kilos or achieving perfection on the rings…to perfecting a masterpiece on a cello (part 2) or painting one on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (& here)…the shoulder itself is a masterpiece.

However, the tremendous range of motion and complexity of the shoulder joint also makes it inherently unstable and prone to injuries.  Knowledge of this innate instability dates as far back as Hippocrates (ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC).  Shoulder injuries can vary dramatically, but the injury I want to specifically address here is the bicep tendon slip phenomenon, or “Biceps Tendon Subluxation”.  When the proximal tendon of the long head of the biceps brachi slips out of the bicipital groove and shifts either forward or backward (usually forward), significant pain and decreased mobility ensues.  But, for most people there is a relatively easy, non surgical, fix that can get you up and training again within a week or two.

The next installment will focus on the anatomy of the shoulder.



7×1 @ 85-90% 1RM

3 Broad Jumps for speed and distance after each set


9 Rounds

7 Ball Slams 45/25#

5 Toes 2 Bar

3 Handstand Pushups

1 Sprint