Ugly Push-Ups = Future Shoulder Issues
Push-ups are commonplace yet most people are doing them wrong: forward head posture, excessive flaring of the elbows, lumbar hyperextension, hip drop, and bent knees. We call that "movement dysfunction" and it can predispose you to overuse injuries at the shoulder. Also, you just won't get much out of your push-ups.
If you don't have a good coach around and don't learn well visually, you can perfect your technique using proprioceptive or "sensory" feedback. First, you want to make sure that you remove your bodyweight from the equation. The amount of resistance provided by your body can interfere with your kinesthetic awareness of where all of your joints are and where they need to be.
The solution is to stand against a wall so that you can generate some touch and feel for how your body is aligned. From here, you'll mimic the push-up action with just your upper extremities so that you can focus intensely on each joint's specific role in exercise.
Frankenstein Push-Up Drill
The beauty of this corrective movement is that it's extremely hard to do wrong (if your initial setup is good) due to the constant feedback of the wall. If you perform the drill wrong, then you'll lose contact with the wall, prompting you to try again until you finish a rep correctly.
- Place your heels, glutes, shoulder blades, and back of your head against a wall.
- Lift your arms to shoulder level with your fingers pointing upwards.
- Reach forward slightly into a degree of protraction while keeping your shoulder blades in contact with the wall. This is a critical tip that can increase activation of the serratus anterior muscle, which may be very weak and inhibited during a push-up or pressing exercises.
- Make sure to "pull" your elbows back into the wall with a high level of tension in your arms, then slowly push back out again.
- Do 5-10 reps for 2-3 sets, or whatever is necessary to master the drill.
The exercise works great as a "filler" drill before performing any push-up variation between work sets.