Healthy shoulders are integral for everything from squats to military presses. It follows then that it’s important to keep your shoulders as healthy as possible. Here are a few tips that will reduce your chance of shoulder injury.
Tip #1 – Warm-up Your Shoulders
Prior to activity, it is important to have enough time to warm up and cool down. Make sure that you get your heart rate up then stretch the major muscle groups, including your shoulders, back, and legs. Other ways to get your heart rate going is riding on an exercise bike and for the shoulders, arm circle exercises, alternating between small and large circles.
Beyond general body warm-up, it’s important to warm up your shoulders. Some of the best exercises include:
Very light weight front, side, and rear raises
Tip #2 – Change Your Program
Sometimes program planning escapes even the best of us. It is important to space out exercises & body parts that utilize the shoulder throughout the week. It’s important to let your shoulders rest before hammering them again. Between events, allow yourself appropriate time to recover. Whether you play tennis, volleyball, or softball, you should always find time to rest in between events. If you’re a multisport athlete, it is recommended to alternate sports, ensuring that no one sport is performed in consecutive periods of time.
Tip # 3. Train your Rotator Cuff
Doing rotator cuff exercises is like cleaning your gutters; it’s not sexy or fun, but you need to do it or else bad things will happen. Believe it or not, one study showed that 34 percent of people with absolutely no shoulder pain actually have rotator cuff tears — and this number is actually 54 percent in those over the age of 60! In other words, just because you don’t have pain doesn’t mean that there isn’t have something wrong. It may just be waiting to reach a painful symptomatic threshold!
With that in mind, I’d encourage you to train the rotator cuff with internal and external rotations, even if it’s just once a week for three sets.
Tip #4 – Use Proper Form in Bench Press
Bench with your elbows tucked in at about a 45 degree angle. It’s important to recognize that there are 2 different basic positions for bench press. Bodybuilding position has the upper arm (humerus) perpendicular to the torso, while powerlifting provides greater stability and reduces injuries by having the elbows tucked in at about a 45 degree angle. It may take a bit of getting used to, but the result is less shoulder ache and ultimately the ability to bench press more weight.
Tip #5. Stop Doing the Behind the Neck Press
The bottom line is that the behind the neck press isn’t anatomical.
Tip #6 – Know Your Limits
This seems like a fairly obvious thing to keep in mind but somehow the ego takes over and makes us forget our limits. There is nothing wrong with testing your strength but do so reasonable and responsibly. I’ve seen many guys walk into the gym and to directly to the heaviest dumbells and try to shoulder press them only to fail.
The bottom line is that the shoulder has several tiny muscles in there and if they aren’t developed to the point of being able to realistically handle the weight you use, you could be looking at a serious injury. As good as surgeons are nowadays, rarely are shoulders restored to their previous glory.
Tip #7 – Get a Massage
Seek out a Registered Massage Therapist certified in Active Release Therapy. The real benefit in seeing an RMT is that you they understand how to break down your fascia to increase your range of motion. Lacking that, there’s a great risk of developing an asymmetry in your range of motion due to fascial restrictions.
Your shoulders are involved in so many movements; it would be unwise to ignore them. By utilizing these tips and by doing some research on Google, you can find a ton of strategies to keep those shoulders strong and healthy.