It’s time for some self-reflection: when was the last time you incorporated shoulder/scapular stability exercises in your exercise program? Chances are not very often, and that’s likely contributing to the pain you get in your shoulders; especially if you do any overhead exercises.
If you are facing some kind of shoulder injury, whether it’s acute or recurring, there is a plethora of reasons why it could be occurring. So if you’re in considerable pain, it’s important to address it by seeing a professional (a physiotherapist or athletic therapist) who can assess you and give you feedback.
If we’re speaking in general, a lot of the shoulder dysfunctions I encounter often stem from weak shoulder rotators, weak lower trapezius, shoulder/scapular instability, and shoulder impingement. So, you can probably guess that adding shoulder stability exercises can make a HUGE impact, and you can likely benefit from adding them into your routine.
One thing to note is that no matter how much you strengthen your shoulders, if your shoulder mobility isn’t sufficient, (specifically the ability to move your arms overhead without a compensatory pattern) then you probably won’t see much progress. Mobility is often a big culprit for shoulder dysfunction and plays a big part in developing good shoulder stability in all planes of motion, so this must be addressed prior to strength work. Check out this link for more info on improving your shoulder mobility.
What if You’re in Pain?
So your mobility is solid but you still have pain. What’s going on? If you’re a frequent lifter, take a second to look at the workouts you’ve completed. How many pressing exercises have you done versus pulling? My guess is that you have way more pressing exercises than pulling.
This is where you can run into trouble: overdeveloping the muscles on the anterior side of the torso (pec major and minor, teres major, etc) can lead to a strength imbalance between the muscles on the front of your chest versus your back. This imbalance can cause some nasty shoulder dysfunctions. As a guide, try to stick to a press-pull ratio of 1-3. For every one pressing exercise, incorporate three pulling exercises elsewhere in your workout or program. This helps reinforce a good strength balance and reduce your risk for potential shoulder injuries.
Once you’ve sorted out your push-pull ratio, incorporating strength and stability exercises is the next step. There’s a ton out there, but instead of using all of them, keep it simple. Start by integrating these exercises into your workouts at least once per week for 4 weeks. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps each exercise. Good news is that they’re easy to do and you can do them almost anywhere.
So now that you know what to do, no excuses! Don’t neglect your shoulders, your body will thank you for it.
To learn more about how you can bulletproof your shoulders, click here. If you have questions about shoulder stability, or strength and conditioning in general, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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