What stretch do I need to do?
This is a question I get from people. Sometimes the question has a video attached to it. Sometimes the question does not have a video (which makes this even more challenging for me, "hey doc, my wrist hurts when I do cleans, what stretch do I need?). Even if you do give me a video, this is usually the wrong question to ask. When I read a question that has a video attached that ends with "what do I need to stretch," I can almost guarantee what I am about to see in the video is not something that needs to be stretched. I would guess when I receive emails or messages like this, 99.9% of the time the person is just very bad at the skill of the thing they are trying to do. They are thinking about it backwards. They have it in their head they just need that one magical mobilization and all their problems will resolve.
I hate to break it to you, but this is rarely the case. This is very typical of things that involve the squat pattern, overhead pattern, or Olympic lifting (which sometimes can involve both patterns simultaneously). You can watch the person do one lift and realize they have not been properly coached in the skill they are trying to perform. Beyond that, many of these people train on their own and have never been coached through a real progression of skill acquisition. This leads to the person trying to layer complex skills on top of underdeveloped lower level skills. I see this many times in the overhead squat or snatch. People wonder why they are struggling to perform these lifts when they don't even have the more basic skills of holding a weight over their head or normal squatting.
I think this is so simple people often overlook it. I am not saying that mobilizations are never necessary. They can be utilized in the context of skill development to help the nervous system learn new positions you are not used to getting into. Manual therapy is an interesting thing. Much of why manual therapy is effective is due to the input you are giving the mechanoreceptors in the joints and the muscles and how they interact with the nervous system. If you have not done any of the things you are trying to jam into your training in, I don't know, forever, you are going to run into roadblocks if you do not seek out coaching and guidance in the beginning to help you along the path. If you are stubbornly trying to layer complex skills onto a sloppy foundation, how do you think it is going to end. I think a big issue is people don't understand they have a sloppy foundation. They think they can just head to a website, look at a workout, and go figure it out. This may be true for someone who is athletic. You may find that guy who can pick up the skill quickly without much guidance just because they have this extraordinary library of good movement in their brain. In my clinical and coaching experience, it is rare to find this person. I typically am contacted by people who are thirty years old or older and have not done anything very athletic in a while until they picked up their new lifting hobby.
This is really an artifact of the world we live in. People think they should just be able to do stuff, and when they can't do stuff, they think their is a quick solution to the issue. They also think they can just reach out to anyone and get free information from them. I hate to sound like a dick, but I went to school too long and worked with people clinically and coaching for too long to develop my broad base of knowledge and pattern recognition. My advice beyond a quick answer is not free. This is why I have consulting and coaching available. Sure, it costs money. If it is a priority for you to solve, you will not be averse to spending some money to have your problem taken care of. Sometimes people like myself will do a Q&A on social media, but that is not the time or place to solve a complex issue for you. And if you are waiting for someone to answer a question about your sore shoulder on a live Q&A, it must not really be that big of a problem for you or you would have gone to someone in person by now and had it looked at.
To wrap everything up, if you are interested in training and you are not familiar with a lot of the moves the training will use, spend money and go get coaching, even if it is just for a few months. If you have a problem (pain, injury, roadblock you can not solve), go find someone in your area who is into what you are into and have them spend time with you to try and solve the problem (or schedule a consulting call or coaching with someone like me, it will be well worth it).