A Quick and Easy Shoulder Health Assessment


Attention DDT Nation! Today we have a guest blog post by Jordan Syatt. Jordan is the founder for Syatt Fitness. A non BS website where you will find great information on strength training. So, ladies and gents, if you have sore or achy shoulders, you might want to read what Jordan has to say about a quick and easy shoulder health assessment. 

Oct. 2013-

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, odds are you know that I’ve been working on an all-encompassing shoulder health and performance e-book for the better part of the last year.

Generally speaking, this book is designed to teach everyone from coaches to the fitness enthusiasts how to assess their (or their clients) shoulder health & function, as well as how to fix individual weaknesses and train for optimal performance.

Needless to say, I’m very excited about this book and can’t wait until it’s ready to launch.

In the meantime, I want to provide you with a quick and easy shoulder health assessment. It can be done on yourself or on your clients, and – when interpreted correctly – can be used to drastically enhance your shoulder health and function.

Supine Shoulder Flexion

The Supine Shoulder Flexion drill is a quick and easy way to test general shoulder mobility.

Specifically, through examining this movement pattern we can see if there are any limiting factors in an individuals overhead range of motion (ROM).


Cueing The Assessment

When performing the assessment it’s necessary to get all of the movement from the shoulders and not compensate elsewhere throughout the body. As such, when cueing this assessment make sure you (or your client) follows these instructions:

  • Feet flat on the floor with heels close to the butt.
  • Lower back flat against the ground the entire time. If you arch through the lower back you will not get accurate results.
  • Keep the back of your head flat against the ground. If you pick your head up you will not get accurate results.
  • Let the arms fall back overhead into their natural position. If you try to control the movement/force the arms down you will not get accurate results.

Common Issues

The point of this assessment is to examine shoulder flexion ROM. Consequently, the main issue seen with this assessment is simply not being able to get the humerus (upper arm) to a full 180 degrees overhead.

Common Causes

There are many reasons why an individual may not be able to get their arms to a full 180 degrees overhead, but the main causes I’ve noticed are:

  • Tight Lats
  • Tight Triceps
  • Poor Thoracic Extension

Fixing the Issues

There are a variety of ways to address the aforementioned issues, so below I’ve provided a few of my favorite drills.

Wall Tricep Stretch

Lat Stretch with Belly Breath


Bench T-Spine Extension

Wrapping Up

For some reason, many coaches over-complicate the assessment process and make it out to be some kind of voodoo magic.

As you can see…it’s really not that complicated.

If you want to get really good at assessments (something that I’m trying to improve upon every day), learn your functional anatomy and practice, practice, practice!

I hope you enjoyed this post and, as always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions you can leave them in the comments section below.

Never Minimal. Never Maximal. Always Optimal.


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