Easiest Shoulder Internal Rotation (GIRD) Fix Ever

Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit (or GIRD for short) is defined as loss of internal rotation of the shoulder while positioned in 90 degrees of abduction. This is a commonly restricted motion in athletes that is important to address. In overhead athletes, loss of this motion puts the shoulder at risk for injury. In weightlifters (Olympic or CrossFitters) many of the movements performed require optimal internal rotation of the shoulder for proper execution. Without full internal rotation, the entire shoulder complex must compensate and will be put into a poor position for both performance and shoulder health.

Poor shoulder internal rotation will lead to compensations during athletic movements. Not the forward tipped shoulder blade here to compensate for poor shoulder IR

Note the forward tipped shoulder blade here to compensate for poor shoulder IR

Frequent treatments for GIRD include stretching the tissues of the posterior shoulder (commonly the sleeper stretch) and shoulder joint mobilizations (performed by the athlete or by a manual therapist). While these are often effective, they can take lots of time and consistency to produce results.

Repeated functional shoulder IR x20 reps

Repeated functional shoulder IR x20 reps

The easiest (and often immediate fix) I have found for GIRD has been repeated towel stretching. I have athletes perform 20 reps, getting the shoulder to end range with each rep and remeasure. During my latest mobility class at my local CrossFit, 5 out of 5 athletes saw significant improvements in IR following the repeated IR stretch.

Clinically, I often see baseball players routinely performing the sleeper stretch and soft tissue work to the posterior shoulder without making significant gains. This movement has on several occasions immediately restored full motion.

Before and after of CrossFit (and former college baseball players) shoulder internal rotation

Before and after of a CrossFit athlete (and former college baseball players) shoulder internal rotation. This was after just one set.

Click to joint

  One thought on “Easiest Shoulder Internal Rotation (GIRD) Fix Ever

  1. November 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Awesome post, the trick is teaching they how to keep it so they don’t get back into the same dysfunctional movement pattern… When you teach they the repeated functional IR, do you block the natural compensatory anteriorly tipped blade or do you just verbally cue them?

  2. November 12, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Zach, one more questions. Whats the name of that strap. I like the various loops that you can hook the wrist in rather than having them hold as in using a towel or belt

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