2 Down, 3 to Go in the 2015 CrossFit Open - Spicy Shoulders?

2 down, 3 to go!

With the introduction of the scaled division this year, CrossFit HQ have made the Open a lot more accessible for athletes of all levels and abilities to get amongst it…With that said, there’s certainly been nothing held back in the WODs so far!



There’s no denying it, the shoulders have definitely copped a beating in the last two WODs. With having to maintain good overhead positioning for snatching in the first WOD and then overhead squats in the second…not to mention the majority of us would’ve used the kip to either get toes to bar or chest to bar…We’re not surprised that we’ve been approached by a few with

“Hey, my shoulders are feeling a bit spicy!”


Here are some reasons why you should, and how you can look after your shoulders to ensure you get through the rest of the Open…..AND beyond!

In the overhead squat or the receiving position at the bottom of a snatch, it is super important that you keep the bar balanced overhead and in line with the middle of the foot…this gives you stability for you to smash out rep after rep efficiently.

If you are able to maintain a good upright torso, the arms are also able to stay in a relatively upright position, meaning the demand on the shoulder angle is less (fig1). If however, your trunk starts to fall forward, the demand on the shoulder angle increases dramatically in order to keep the bar centred over the middle of the foot (fig.2)…and this is where your joints, tissues and muscles surrounding your shoulder will probably hate you for it.



Note : A forward lean of the torso also makes it difficult to squat below parallel (no rep!) and might even cause you to come forward onto your toes, meaning you lose the power of your posterior chain to stand the bar up. 

In the second scenario, your rotator cuff muscles will have to work extra hard to stabilise at that range. The subscapularis, (the muscle that sits at the front of your shoulder blade) in particular, has a special job of keeping the ball and socket joint centred.  Ligaments and soft tissue surrounding the shoulder joint, especially in the front part will also be stressed in this end of range position. In some cases the top of the shoulder joint can also become impinged causing a pinching sensation whenever you raise your arms up.


Other muscles of note that will be feeling a bit beat up will be the lats and pecs from kipping…if these are tight, they will also pull your shoulder down and forward, adding to any impingement.

So this week….be kind to your shoulders. Take the approach of releasing your pecs, lats and subscap muscles, you can check out our blog here on looking after the shoulders using things such as trigger balls or the sceptre  instead of trying to “stretch” into the overhead position merely because it feels tight and sore as this might just irritate the structures that have been stressed already!

We would also suggest deloading the shoulders this week, to let them recover for the final couple of open wods.

Lat Release with Foam Roller

Lat Release with Foam Roller

Mobilise your upper back on a foam roller…afterall, this may be why you were unable to keep an upright torso to begin with causing your shoulders to have to compensate!  

Thoracic Release on Foam Roller

Thoracic Release on Foam Roller


Don’t forget, this isn’t a quick fix…we want to see beyond this year’s Open and take the opportunity to ensure that you are addressing any issues that are apparent now…so that you can come back and crush it next year!