Push-ups are a staple in every athlete’s training toolbox, not just for building an impressive chest but also for developing full-body strength and functionality. While it is primarily thought of as an anterior upper-body movement, the push-up recruits muscles from various parts of the body and requires them to work in unison for it to be executed properly.
Looking at the movement demands of the push-up, we can see that the majority of movement falls on the shoulder and elbow joint. While most people tend to have little difficulty in manipulating their elbows, the same cannot be said for their shoulders. Poor posture combined with largely sedentary lifestyles can lead to shoulder dysfunction, and alterations of scapular kinematics in particular.
Shoulder pain is a particular concern with these groups of individuals and can make even the most basic of upper-body movements difficult. In such cases, force-feeding strength exercises may just end up exacerbating the matter. Think of it is as trying to drive a nail in using the handle of a hammer; you’re more likely to put a serious crack in it!
Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit
In such a case, the problem doesn’t lie with the tool but rather how you’re using it. Applying that to our dilemma involving the push-up, and we can see how making small adjustments to how we move can make way for dramatic improvement. The slideboard banded push-up forces the individual to contract their posterior shoulder muscles and increases muscle tension around the entire shoulder. This stabilises the shoulder joint and can turn performing push-ups into a pain-free endeavour.
The setup is simple enough: place a mini-band around your wrists and place your hands on the slideboards. If you don’t have access to slideboards, a pair of socks on a wooden or tile floor works just as well. Make sure to keep your wrists and elbows in line with your shoulders, from both the front and side views. As with conventional push-ups, squeeze the glutes to put the pelvis in a slight posterior tilt and keep the elbows at approximately 45° from your torso as you move.
It goes without saying that you’d want to make each repetition as complete as possible. That means having the chest touch the floor and fully extending the arms right after. For people coming into the gym after a long day at the office, the slideboard banded push-up can be used as part of warmup to get those underutilised posterior deltoids firing again. Try performing it with tempo to make things even more challenging!