MAG shoulder flexibility - MAG

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Men's Artistic Gymnastics
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Proud Parent
Mar 10, 2015
Some questions about shoulder flexibility in men's gymnastics...

YDS (just turned 8) has finished level 4 season and they are starting to work on level 5 skills...high bar kip, front handspring, etc. The coach mentioned the other night that he has tight shoulders and will need to work on shoulder flexibility in order to get these skills.

His shoulders seem quite flexible in some ways - no problem lying on his back with his arms stretched out behind him skin-the-cat style, no problem with skin the cat-type hangs (bar and rings) and can go all the way through from skin the cat on a bar (works on that with one of the coaches, they do it very slowly - incidentally this isn't the coach that mentioned his shoulders). But I've noticed some tightness in his shoulders in handstands on floor/pbar (slight angle in shoulder rather than full extension).

My questions:
- can you determine if limited shoulder flexibility is due to a structural thing or if muscle related?
- could this be a long term problem for boys gym?

I was reading through some shoulder flexibility threads in the WAG forum and there were a number of posts saying it could really limit success in WAG. Wondering if it's the same for MAG?

First, yes not being able to properly open the shoulders for skills can make long-term skill development difficult. Second-Can you get him evaluated by a Physical therapist? It can be a variety of things and just trying to stretch the shoulders more might not be the answer and could even be harmful. This article is written by a physician al therapist -the overall site has a lot of great information for gymnast specific issues.
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I definitely agree that getting him evaluated by a physical therapist is a good idea. My son has very tight shoulders. When he was Level 4, his original coach told me that he'd never be a good front tumbler, would struggle to get Giants, etc. Well, he was wrong about that. He got all of those skills at a young age. But in the process, he developed nagging wrist problems, as he had to put extra strain on the forearms to compensate for the tight shoulders. After lots of rest & months of physical therapy, he is on the right track. I think if I had been proactive and taken him to physical therapy early to work on the shoulders (massage & shoulder exercises helped a lot!), his wrist problems could have been avoided.
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