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Shoulder Impingement by Kelly Starrett - CrossFit Journal

Shoulder Impingement

By Kelly Starrett

Video Article

In CrossFit and in life, we go overhead. Kelly Starrett, of San Francisco CrossFit, explains the essential anatomy and physiology of the shoulder. This is an excerpt from his one day seminar on Training the Injured Athlete at CrossFit Santa Cruz on March 14th, 2009.

The shoulder is designed primarily for mobility. There are a number of forces that rotate it internally, while there are relatively few forces rotating externally. Balancing the shoulder so that it remains in an optimal position for maximum stability and force production is the goal.

In this video, Kelly explains how the shoulder works both when it is healthy and when there is an impingement.

5min 33sec

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23 Comments on “Shoulder Impingement”


wrote …

This is a great video Kelly and I hope there is a part 2. I cannot stress enough to everybody about what Kelly says in icing your shoulder down when feeling discomfort after a shoulder workout which is just about everything we do in Crossfit. I am six weeks into my recovery from a Subacromial Decompression shoulder surgery. I had to have bone shaved off the tip of my clavicle that was causing impingement on my rotator cuff muscle. Luck be had I had no tearing. Believe me when I say that nobody wants to have shoulder surgery period. This six weeks and more to go of not being able to do Crossfit has been agonizing. Kelly every one of your videos to date has been very educational and helpful. Keep up the good work!!!


wrote …

Please keep Kelly's instructional videos coming. They are very informative, educational, and usefull.
Thank you,


wrote …

Ditto...enthusiasm and knowledge make these installations well worth the time... keep em coming please...


wrote …

I'll echo the above mentioned comments. Kelly, your physio videos are priceless. I hope in the upcoming shoulder vids you provide instruction on proper shoulder warm-up, stretches and maintenance.



wrote …

Thanks Kelly I always love Your info
I guess because You are always talking to Me
I was wondering if wide grip chins and pushups would also be helpful
I just started using the advice in Journal 38 for shoulder therapy
I read a comment by Jeff Martin that said it took Him 2 years before His shoulders were good
I am 62. I am X everything, sports, military, martial arts, power lifting
I can wait 2 years
Is there any hope of a OVERHEAD SQUAT
Please keep up the great work
Gene Read


wrote …

Thank you so much for putting up another video from kelly. And I hope, that there are plenty more to come.

I find this knowledge so fundemantal for everyone doing and coaching workouts, and really like the way he explains it. Great work!


wrote …

I need more of this guy!Ill watch anything that he puts out. Great job. ridiculously informative.

By the way is there any information on proper stretching of the shoulder?


wrote …

Wonderful video.


wrote …

Interesting video on shoulder imingement. I would like to see some live video on positioning and exercise techniques to help prevent rotatator cuff tears, and instability. So many people suffer from this condition, not to mention meniscal tears and acl strecthing in the knees. I understand the gentlemen that just recovered from shoulder surgery, since I am medical device rep for othropedic surgical procedures. We need to train people safely and prevent injury and help rehab repaired tendons.


replied to comment from Gene Read


I know that Jeff Martin took a "go slow" approach and started incorporating overhead squats into his warm up moving up over time.

Quite literally from pvc to WODs with weight.

Hopefully he won't mind me posting his words here. If he does, I'm going out to see him in about 3 weeks . . . I'm sure there will be "repercussions". The WOD he's referring to is Nancy (5 rft: 400 meter run, 15 ohs @ 95lbs)

Jeff Martin: "Here is some perspective. January 2007. First time I did this WOD as rx’d. I’m 48. Have been doing CrossFit since 2003. I had severe shoulder problems and couldn’t do OHS without having pain for days. In summer of 2006 I started working on OHS. I put them in my warm ups. I started with a pvc pipe. When I could do 30 reps without shoulder pain and with good ROM and form I went up 5 pounds. I continued this pattern, and by Jan. 2007 I could do 95# OHS. Nancy took me about 25 minutes."


Brian White wrote …

This was an excellent video and I feel that it affects more Crossfitters than one would think. I was watching the video after my workout and immediately began icing my shoulder. It felt better almost right away and has not bothered me since. This will be a constant practice with me now. I injured my should about 4 months ago and is just now back to 90% strength and mobility. Thanks.


wrote …

Nice video. One area that might touch on in the future is scapular mobility. If talking about shoulder abduction, scapula begins to upwardly rotate to accomodated glenohumeral abduction at shoulder abductions of greater than 30 degrees. Also, during shoulder flexion after 45 degrees. For total ROM at the shoulder there is a 2:1 relationship of shoulder to scapular movement for abduction (i.e. 180 degrees total ROM; 120 degrees is glenohumeral and 60 degrees of scapulothoracic). Therefore if having shoulder mobility problems, one may look at scaular movement as well.

Also great point about icing. I think every crossfit facility should have an ice machine handy or a 7-11 around the corner!

Lastly, probably #1 thing people can do to help shoulder mobility is to work on stretching the shoulder joint to increase ROM. For those looking for stretches, the stretches that overhand sports (i.e. baseball, volleyball) use would be a good place to start.


wrote …

Another great video by Kelly. I concur with everyone that they should have more of these videos. So much information but in such a newbie friendly presentation. Thanks Kelly.


wrote …

I'm living this now...where is part two and three and four and.... :)


replied to comment from Bob Everson

implied but not explicitly stated - Great video (as are all of Kelly's videos)


wrote …

Just subscribed to the journal and next to Coach B, Kelly is my favorite Crossfit icon to learn from and pretty much idolize! After watching the shoulder videos I feel like I've been spiritually enlightened! So super informative, im awaiting part 2 and on of the shoulder impingement checklist video! Thanks Crossfit for making this information available, i've been a trainer for 3 years and my level of expertise has increased exponentially since ive been reading and especially doing crossfits!! Next step, GET CERTIFIED HOPEFULLY THROUGH KELLY ONE DAY!!! Thanks again! Down with bodybuilding, all hail to crossfit!!


wrote …

Great stuff KStar! Would a shoulder Impingement (which is what I think I have in my right shoulder) make push ups real painful? How does that happen I can't recall any specific time when working out that I felt like I injured myself. It just all of a sudden started to hurt and effect my work out.

What is the rehab besides RICE and stretching?


wrote …

Amazing videos.... I can't get enough off these...


wrote …

It does seem Starrett knows what he's talking about, but enough with the teasing already. He does not provide any advice on stretching, rehab, or other thoughts on preventative steps. This is a recurring theme with his videos, which is frustrating because I'm certain that he has the answers. Explaining the problem is not the same as solving it.


wrote …

I tend to agree. It's marketing. If he didn't come off like he knew what he was talking about and gave all the answers, who would go pay for his certs? Just watched his latest video, 5/23/10, and it doesn't offer any info really, other than him stating how Bauer couldn't keep a lumbar curve with straight legs while sitting when a woman across the table could. [shrug].


wrote …

I can't believe all of this information has been out for such a long time and I'm just now finding it. I think I've been watching K-Star presentations every night now for the past three weeks. I now use flexion and external rotation in my own conversations :-p go figure!


wrote …

Other than ice, no ofher treatments were mentioned. I'm not a physical therapist, a chiropractor or an orthopedist looking to pay to go to a workshop. I'm just a guy dealing with a nagging left shoulder that bothers me when I put on a jacket, do snatches or OH squats. Other than ice what are some other treatments for impingement? What can I do at home or in the gym using resistance bands to get that roll, slide and glide back?


wrote …

Other than ice, no ofher treatments were mentioned. I'm not a physical therapist, a chiropractor or an orthopedist looking to pay to go to a workshop. I'm just a guy dealing with a nagging left shoulder that bothers me when I put on a jacket, do snatches or OH squats. Other than ice what are some other treatments for impingement? What can I do at home or in the gym using resistance bands to get that roll, slide and glide back?

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