The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Fast Fitness - Eighth Group Functional Training: Spine and Shoulder Stability With Overhead Motions

Here is Fast Friday Fitness - eighth in the series of Functional Fitness Training (Bookspan Basics) to teach your group, teams, classes, students, kids, battalions, or self. In this Bookspan Basic Training, you train positioning and muscle skills to reach overhead with healthy mechanics for the shoulder and lower back.

Assemble your group in neat rows. Stand in front in view of all. Tell them this is a basic, functional physical skill to learn to prevent injurious positioning during overhead motions.

  1. Everyone reaches up. Have everyone notice if they lean their upper body backward to raise their arms. See if their tilt their beltline downward in front or push the hip/pelvis forward. See examples in both photos above and below. Explain that leaning back and increasing the lower spine arch are not a healthy ways to raise arms and that upright neutral spine is a stronger base for their arm movement and uses abdominal muscles.

  2. Have everyone bring their ribs back down to level, pull upper body to upright, and tuck the hip under to straighten the pelvis to vertical and neutral. The motion is like doing an abdominal crunch standing up, without curling forward. You crunch enough to bring yourself to straight and upright. See our short movie of fixing this on Overhead Lifting, Reaching, and Throwing Part II - Lower Back.

  3. Have everyone hold their upper body upright and vertical and notice where their shoulder is and try it again with healthy position.
Leaning back when raising arms increases the inward curve of the lower back, causing a swayback, hyper-lordotic posture. Hyperlordosis is a common source of "mystery" back pain. It comes when you over-arch - usually during long standing, walking, running, reaching, then goes away. People are mystified. Look at both photos again. It is easily prevented by stopping the injurious position then and there. Send your success photos to me at

Make sure everyone breathes. A bad habit promoted by much popular fitness is tightening the abdominal and backside muscles to do minor movements. People hold their breath. Make sure all can do full relaxed belly breathing while holding neutral spine and reaching both arms overhead. Remind all to keep their shoulders down and not raise the shoulders when they raise the arms.

Trainers, Drill Instructors, readers, send in your stories and photos of how you use these in your program.


Good body mechanics are a powerful performance enhancing aid.

Functional Group Bookspan Basics:

Related Fitness Fixers for Overhead Reaching:


Read success stories and send your own. See if your answers are already here - on and the Fitness Fixer Index. Limited Class space for personal feedback. Top students may earn certification through More fun in Dr. Bookspan's Books.


Red shirt Photo by Rose Davies
Soldier Photo by taskforcemarne.
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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.