Way back in April, I wrote a post about a shoulder issue I was dealing with, and how I hoped to heal myself. Some of that was successful (turns out carrying a baby in one arm all day will do a number on you), and some of it wasn’t. I’ll write more about that later, but I wanted to highlight a piece of equipment I mentioned in that post, Crossover Symmetry.

Big picture, Crossover Symmetry is an evidence-based shoulder health and training system. It was designed by physical therapists, coaches, and athletes to improve scapular mechanics. Instead of training individual muscles or ranges of motion, the system trains movement patterns. Research and clinical practice have shown that many shoulder joint injuries result from poor scapular mechanics or thoracic extension/rotation faults. These folks designed a system to efficiently and effecitvely improve the scapular piece of the puzzle.

The folks at Crossover Symmetry were nice enough to send me an individual package. They have since changed their package contents, but at the time the Athletic Package included pairs of the 7 lbs, 15 lbs, and 25 lbs bands, video instructions and demos for all the workouts, a workout reference card printed on an aluminum plate with mounting hooks, and attachments for the bands to both a squat rack, and a door in my house.

The first thing you’re going to notice about the equipment is how bomber it is. Every piece of the kit is super high quality. Crossover Symmetry equips professional sports teams, Division 1 College Athletic Departments, as well as private individuals like me, and they sell everyone the same gear.

The second thing you’re going to notice about Crossover Symmetry is the price. It will cost you $280 to put together the same set I have. A big part of the price is the high quality. This stuff is designed to be abused by hundreds of professional and collegiate athletes on a daily basis. The rubber in the bands is more likely to disintegrate from age than from use. The video instruction is also top notch. I have a few quibbles about the amount of rib cage thrusting they let the model get away with. Otherwise the instructions were very clear, exercises were well demonstrated, and helpful points of performance made learning the system very easy.

So, is the juice worth the squeeze? I think so. If you’re a 6 AM regular at CrossFit Big Dane, you’ve seen me working through the activation sequence every morning since I first got the set. I wake up most mornings feeling like my shoulders are in my ears, and using Crossover Symmetry puts them back where they belong. I also have some left-right imbalances in my shoulders dating back about 10 years, and I’ve seen them diminish since using the system. One of my clients bought a set on my recommendation, and he reported that his shoulders didn’t hurt anymore when lying on his side.

Could you kluge a similar effect out of some jump stretch bands and looking at the pictures of the exercise sequences? Maybe. Good design makes the right decision the easiest decision. Using Crossover Symmetry makes it extremely easy to set up, do the routine as prescribed, and tear down. There’s no fiddling with equipment or space, you just do it, every time.

The only real issue I have with the system is that the set I have doesn’t address thoracic extension/rotation. As I’ve mentioned in recent newsletters, my clinical experience, and my recent training in the SFMA have shown me how vital that movement pattern is to good shoulder health. I’m a little disappointed that there isn’t any mobility or motor control work for that. The current product offering includes a Mobility Sac (no, I’m not making that up), as well as a mobility program, so I’m hoping they’ve addressed this issue.

I definitely recommend Crossover Symmetry as a self-care and home rehab solution. If you play overhead sports like volleyball or CrossFit, or throwing sports like baseball or softball, this is a great tool for avoiding injury, or rehabbing one if it’s already too late. This may also be a great tool for non-athletic folks who are dealing with a current shoulder or rotator cuff injury.