5 Things That You Can Do Today to Maintain Your Shoulder Health
This is the first entry in a series about our joint health. Each joint in your body undergoes different stresses, and while there are universal ideas like stretch, that work for all joints, it is not as common that we look towards the specific breakdown of exactly what stretches will help improve the joint. You will also see what exercises will assist in the development of the different parts, and aspects of the joint and the muscle groups that surround the joint.
We are going to begin with the shoulder joint. The reason that we are starting with the shoulders is that they impact the majority of your lifts and exercises that you perform. The shoulder is also a ball and socket joint thus, it has a massive amount of attachments and can work in all the plains of the body.
The first thing that you can do is going to be universal, however it is of particular importance when it comes to the shoulder. The first thing is to progress slowly. Now, when we are discussing the shoulder joint it is important to progress not only in the resistance that we are using, but also in the movement patterns. What this means is to walk before you run. When discussing the shoulder joint it is the idea that you need to begin with the basic movement patterns before getting into the explosive and ballistic movement patterns that place much greater stress in the joint. As it relates to the shoulder we are specifically talking about doing exercises like front, side, lateral raises and ect, before we jump into thrusters, snatchs, and ect. The first set of movements build up the supporting muscles to perform the second series of exercises.
The second thing that we need to do is to stretch. It is important that you continue to work through the range of motion of the joint to ensure joint health. Looking into the shoulder you need to not simply focus on the components of the shoulder itself, but also look into the lats and chest as well. My favorite lat stretch is to use a door frame, place your elbow on the door, and twist your body away from your elbow. Similarly, an amazing stretch for your chest is to again us a door frame to place your elbow roughly at chest height and listen to your body this is a chest stretch if you don’t feel it there change your elbow height. Everyone has different muscle attachments, so the weights that work for you may be completely different from another persons. See the video for stretching techniques.
Make sure that you perform mobility exercises. Every exercise you perform should have a purpose. With some exercises it is to build up the muscles others are concerned with working on explosive power, here you will focus on exercises that help increase the mobility or active range of motion of the joint. I have found some of the best exercises for this are simply identified by the letters I’s Y’s T’s and W’s.
Focus on natural movement patterns. When exploring the shoulder joint in particular it is important, because your shoulder is involved in all upper body exercises that you perform. Understand where your shoulder should be for every movement you are performing. When we press your shoulders should be down and you should be contracting your rhomboids and latissimus dorsi (the big muscles in your back). This contraction will protect your shoulders and ensure that your joint is not compromised. It is also important to not overstretch or compromise the joint when you are completing your exercises. There are modifications that you can do like pressing or doing flys from the floor that will inhibit your range of motion to ensure that we protect your shoulder health while increasing your fitness.
Finally focus on how things feel. This may seem like an of course moment. However, I do not want you to take this too lightly. When we discuss focusing on how things feel this is the most telling part of your exercise routine. If you are feeling numbness, acute stabbing pain, or something simply feels off, you should adjust the exercise or avoid it entirely. It is crucial to always listen to your body.
In conclusion the shoulder is one of the most dynamic joints in your body. A shoulder injury can hinder all aspects of your training. For those reasons it may be the most important joint to make sure you keep healthy. You must progress slowly,
stretch, perform mobility exercises, pay attention to the movement pattern, and pay attention to how your body feels. Taking these steps will help keep your shoulder healthy and keep you training.