I totally had a poster of Kriss Kross, in their backward overalls, hanging on the ceiling over my bed when I was wee girl of 10yrs old. Gosh they were soooo cool. Let's be honest the 90's were soooo cool. Anyway, totally off topic but while I was singing "Kriss Kross will make you jump jump!" on the bus today it made me think of all the Crossover Symmetry I have taken up due to a recent shoulder injury. I went to the doctor's office last week (shout out to Khem!) and discovered that I've got some not so sweet scapular dyskinesis aka scapular winging going on. Don't worry, this sounds much scarier then it is and in fact happens to many people, totally common. One of the strongest suggestions the doc had for me was to make sure I was all over the Crossover Symmetry everyday I was at the gym. Many, if not hopefully most, of you are at least somewhat familiar with the Crossover Symmetry System but I wanted to run down why it is important and exactly what it is working/doing.
SCAPULAR DYSKINESIS and your ROTATOR CUFF
Scapular Dyskinesis (or scapular winging) is, in its simplest description, abnormal movement of your scapula (shoulder blade). If the scapular muscles are weak, the scapula can become increasingly internally rotated especially when combined with sports that include throwing (e.g. thrusters, baseball, wall balls) and overhead positioning (think muscle-ups, overhead squats, also swimming). The misalignment of the shoulder blade causes the shoulder joint to become hyperangulated, which is just a fancy way of saying it puts your shoulder in a totally crappy angle. Because of this angling, the rotator cuff (a group of four muscles explained below) can become pinched between the humeral head (head of your arm bone) and the back side of the shoulder joint. This pinching is otherwise known as internal impingement. The greater the angle, the greater the pinch. The scapula is what allows, or disallows, proper wall ball throwing so if the scapula is not performing correctly some other poor unsuspecting body part is going to have to pick up the slack and thus making us injury prone.
Ok so we got that your scapula needs to have some good mojo and move around like a ninja. So what muscles make that happen?? The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles largely responsible for shoulder functionality and stability. The muscles in the rotator cuff include: teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and subscapularis.
These four muscles are what allow your arm to abduct out to the side, reach in front of you, and bring your arm over head. They create a "cuff" around the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint) to stabilize movement. So you can imagine if these muscles aren't pulling their weight (quite literally) a whole lotta messiness can ensue. And here is where Crossover Symmetry can come to the rescue!
Crossover Symmetry is a series of shoulder exercises using a collection of resistance bands. The bands vary in resistance depending on the exercise and the athletes strength level. The companies model is pretty simple : "Our goal is to facilitate safe and efficient shoulder mechanics, reduce the risk of shoulder injury, and improve overhead performance". There are four phases of drills illustrated on the wall mount that comes with the bands, I am only going to discuss the first phase: Activation Phase.
According to their website, and I would agree, the Activation Phase is the most important and is intended to be done prior to all workouts. The purpose of the Activation program is to activate and warm-up the shoulder complex without fatiguing it. The idea is to prime your rotator cuff muscles for future movement. By doing warm-up, non-fatiguing exercises you are increasing blood flow to the area and mobilizing the tissues in preparation for more strenuous demands. I do this phase even on days where it might not seem relevant, like benchmark back squat days, because guess what?! YOU USE YOUR SHOULDERS EVEN WHEN SQUATTING. (Boom, mind blown). Remember how we talked all about front squat positioning and how you want to be able to keep your chest up? A huge part of that chest up piece is having the strength and mechanics to keep your shoulders integrated on your back and not caving forward. Your shoulders need to be warm for all of your workouts, not just upper body dominant exercises.
And it goes way beyond just priming you for lifting. Crossover Symmetry is compiled of predominately pulling exercises that will totally improve your posture, which makes sense if you think about it because our default positioning is to have our chest concave and our shoulders roll forward as we hunch over our computers and cell phones. These drills teach your muscles to have a better base temperament mechanics. The drills train your shoulders to stay back and down ALL the time, not just when you're doing last year's 15.5 open workout (vomit). And honestly the best part is it literally, no exaggeration needed, takes all of three minutes to go through the Activation Phase so don't be lazy and add in the bonus accessory work that you know your muscles need. If you are a CrossFitter you probs already have the setup at the gym and if you don't get on your coaches like me all over some new overalls. But if not, you can order them online and they come with all the exercises laid out in a nifty little sheet with pictures and everything!
I know, you had no idea you could learn all this from Kriss Kross. They make you wanna crossover!! And obvi, I posted the music video because either you are super cool and can't wait to reminisce over the 90's or you are totally out of the loop and want to be cool in which case: commence being cool NOW.