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How This Core Stability Exercise Helps Shoulder Issues

Cory Cripe, DVRT Master (Creator of DVRT Movement Strength, Dynamic Strength, & Weekend Warriors Program)

sandbag shoulder toss

I sometimes sit back and reflect on my gym, Fitness Lying Down, and where we are today and how far we’ve come since opening in 2014. Being around as long as we have, you can understand how we’ve seen a lot of people come through our doors to train with us.

For all the people we’ve helped, I just can’t stop thinking of the faces people would make after explaining how they had shoulder “things”. They weren’t people with exact diagnoses, but they had aches and pains that made life difficult for them all the same. People that have any sort of pain/discomfort can be very hesitant to exercises because they understandably don’t want to end up hurting worse! So, you could imagine the expressions I would get after demonstrating the DVRT Around The World (ATW), at first glance it can look like a scary drill for those with cranky shoulders.  You would have thought I just asked them to do a million burpees in one minute (don’t worry I would never ask anyone to do such a thing)!

Explaining how the body is connected and that instability of the core can cause tons of issues in shoulder function, that didn’t help much either. Most people are still locked into thinking “if my shoulder hurts, then I have a shoulder issue.” The idea that core stability can enhance the function of the shoulder is actually based on science.

There are many studies that support the idea that if we can gain better proximal stability in the core, then we achieve better distal mobility and strength. If you think this is nonsense, this 2018 study may help demonstrate it is pretty well established.  “Our study showed that six-week core stabilization exercise program had a significant positive effect on the shoulder maximal voluntary isometric contraction strength.”

core stability

My fellow DVRT Master, Ara Keshishian, recently did a great job highlighting the benefits of our Around the Worlds

The Ultimate Sandbag teaches the body how to be reactive so we are training both the very deep stabilizers of the core as well as the ability to work at the right time. These aren’t qualities you will find in most fitness blogs or magazines, but they are the ones that the research supports the most in how to use core stability properly. The key is to start at the right level and before we use it as our big problem solver I want people to understand that this is NOT a shoulder or arm exercise so we start them at thethe most foundational level ATW: the standing, half around the world. Now their faces are still of amazement, but a different kind. Our sandbaggers now have discovered how this exercise is not an arm and shoulder screamer, but a core singer!


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In this version of the ATW, I am using the drill for core stability training to RESIST rotation. We teach this version before we teach the faster and more complex version of creating rotation. 

A problem I’ve run into is when I talk with other coaches, they know this can be such a beneficial drill for themselves and their clients, but they struggle in understanding the intent of it, find it difficult to coach, and then totally dismiss it well before they understand it. Sadly, even a lot of coaches can fall prey to thinking that we are using our shoulders to really move the weight and that can be hard to understand how that is NOT the case. My priority to have you better understand the ATW and use it to help people find their better because I was able to instruct a DVRT workshop in Iowa this past April and encountered someone with “shoulder issues” who was wondering about the ATW. So I coached them the same way I do at FLD (and what I’m about to unpack for you below) and this person successfully performed the ATW with NO PAIN! Let’s just say there were some tears of surprise and joy as a result. This started to open them to understanding how their shoulder issues may not be really shoulder, but core stability. Having the right target helps us aim for better solutions.

Now we see the USB flying around the body and are led to believe, for obvious reasons, how the arms and shoulders make the bag move. I’ll tell you those body parts are only the messengers, it’s the core that is speaking, allowing the USB to move safely around the body keeping the shoulders resilient and mobile. But what’s the secret?

DVRT fellow master, Kari Negraiff, gives some great tips on the movement of the Around The World for core stability in resisting rotation. 

Hopefully by now most of us have learned to pull the handles apart, ripping them off the bag and for the most part this is a very useful coaching cue to use for most USB drills. However, we need our arms to be loose, if I am trying to pull the handles apart the way I would for a dead bug or hip bridge, my arms won’t be allowed to be fluid and as soon as the bag wants to move around me, my shoulders are going to be putting in more work than necessary causing those icky feelings we’re trying to prevent!

Our awesome clients at Fitness Lying Down show how smooth and efficient we want the ATW to be, plus you are seeing two different versions of the movement. First we are using the resisted rotational aspect of the ATW, but then we want to progress to going rotational. Not only is rotation and important pattern to teach overall, but getting more footwork and getting the hips more involved can only enhance how we perform the exercise.

Eventually, once you get proficient with the Around The World we can really take your core stability training to much higher levels and increase the carry over to real life. Drills like this one below is just one example of how we increase the overall demands of the body to keep our shoulders healthy, but also for stronger feet, better hips, and a VERY stable core!


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We open a world to better core stability, but also teaching our body how it is suppose to work in real life. The Tornado drill I show below looks SOOOO odd to people if they still think the body as individual parts and not this super sophisticated integrated system. Once you do, it makes SO MUCH sense why these “odd” DVRT drills work so well!

Don’t miss Cory’s upcoming Chicago DVRT Level 1 & 2 Certifications HERE and learn all the cues and progressions that allow you to transform people’s results! Plus continue to save during our Summer Sale using coupon code SUMMER30. Excludes live events, gift cards, and online coaching.


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Talk to any of our sandbaggers at FLD or anyone else that knows me and they will tell you about my unhealthy relationship with the Around The World, they are not wrong!

core stability