Anatomy in Action V: Americana
Where the Kimura damages structures in the back of the shoulder, the Americana attacks the front. Similar to the Kimura, the Americana may cause damage to the joint capsule, labrum, and rotator cuff.
The shoulder is a very shallow, unstable ball and socket joint. The labrum serves to deepen that socket while the joint capsule and ligaments help to hold the joint in place and limit motion. The rotator cuff ensures the humeral head moves correctly during motion.
The Americana does the opposite of a Kimura, externally rotating the Humerus. This pushes the humeral head towards the front of the joint, putting a lot of pressure on the structures there and stretching your muscles of internal rotation to their maximum length. Letting the sub go too long will most likely tear your anterior labrum, anterior joint capsule, or subscapularis, muscle.
But what about when it hurt my elbow! If the angle of torsion is not quite right or if the elbow is not low enough (close to the side), the structures of the shoulder are not put at enough stress to damage the shoulder, and the elbow will be damaged instead.
So how about some preventative tips for mobility work?!
Wall Angels with a Twist:
Start with your back, butt, head, elbows, and wrists against a wall and your feet slightly out from the wall.
Throughout the entire motion, squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep all of those points of contact against the wall. Keep your elbows slightly bent the whole time.
Bring your arms up overhead as far as you can without anything lifting off the wall. You shouldn’t be able to go all the way without cheating.
Bring your elbows down towards your side, maintaining contact with the wall again. This position should look a little like the Americana.
Banded External Rotation Reaches
Begin with a band or cable across your body. Start with a VERY light resistance.
Keep your elbow bent throughout the motion and reach straight up (like a Mario Uppercut).
As you progress, use varying angles of pull by turning your body towards the cable little by little. Eventually, you can perform this exercise nearly facing the cable or band.
However, realize that this is an extremely challenging position for your shoulder, so be sure to use LIGHT weight and never work through pain.
Of course, if you combine these exercises with the exercises given in my Kimura breakdown, you should have a highly mobile shoulder with great control in all directions!