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Progress in range of motion - awareness and / or stretching muscle fibres

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Hi all, 

I’ve been working on my shoulder flexion mobility. My starting point was getting to about 145 degrees and I’m now at about 170 degrees. I am able to get that extra range of motion by “accessing” various musculature that I wasn’t previously aware of.  If I lift my arm overhead in a natural manner, my arm still stops at that first initial resting place. I can only access that extra range when I consciously activate those other muscles. 

So I’m coming to a conclusion that increasing range of motion and flexibility may be first about learning how to use your body to first discover what your range of motion actually is before even attempting to increase the length of the muscle fibres themselves. 

I’m wondering if others might have had a similar experience? 

And have if this theory hold true, has anyone had the same experience with lower body flexibility? 


Many thanks,




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Sure.  Here are the two positions.  

Having photographed myself, it really does look like I have a long way to go.  

The type of stretches I've been doing until now have been focused on dead passive / active hangs, puppy pose, and lots of stick butcher's block with rounded / thoracic variations, and some external rotation lifts for strengthening. 



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On 6/24/2023 at 11:45 PM, daniel108 said:

I am able to get that extra range of motion by “accessing” various musculature that I wasn’t previously aware of.

@daniel108: yes, that extra range comes from thoracic and lumbar extension mostly, and your lats are a bit tight, that's all. And (talking about your first post) there is no doubt that learning how to access your mobility is a big part of flexibility gains. Try working your ways through all of these:


The one-arm hang is very powerful in this regard.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Kit_L I have been doing various lat stretch limbering on a daily basis and I actually really enjoy the relieving sensation of these stretches.  I'm not strong enough to do the one-arm hang, so I usually resort to the door post lat stretch. 

Regarding your guidance to have a weekly more intense contract-relax session that actually increases the ROM, I haven't found anything resulting in DOMS in my lats.  Am I perhaps doing something wrong? 

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Re. One arm hang: use a strap, like the Olympic lifters do. Any kind of strap can be used (you do not need to buy anything). If using a single piece of strap, fold in half and the loop goes over the back of your wrist—then the two free ends go over the bar from underneath, and up behind the bar, then in between your palm and the bar. Tighten by turning hour hand around the bar (you can pull on the free ends to quicken the process). It's a bit awkward to begin with, but once you get it, you can hang forever!

And Liv developed a hands-and-knees lat stretch that is very effective, too, and I will ask her to find an image of it. If she can't I will shoot and post it on the YT channel.

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  • 1 month later...

@Kit_L soemwhere I came across some discussion on “shoulder shrugging”. The bottom line was that we shouldn’t “shrug” our shoulders while flexing because it can lead to impingement.

i find that shrugging gives me that extra flexion and also stretches some areas on the back which aren’t stretched when keeping the shoulders down. 

So I was wondering what your perspective is on shrugging?

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Just as you've found, it's a useful adjunct to the flexion movement. Much of what you read on the internet is simply not accurate, or not written by someone who experiments to find out what works for them. This what you are doing. And shrugging (or 'pressing the floor away' in the full back bend, for example) is essential.

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