10 Ways To Save Those Shoulders

Oh those aching shoulders. You want to get a good, quality workout in, but are afraid to do any upper body work because you do not want to beat up those shoulders anymore than they already are. Or maybe you have been training for years with that constant ache and have just accepted that constant ache. Or maybe you just want be smart, be pro-active and nip those shoulder aches in the bud before they ever pop up. Here are ten ways to do just that:

  1. More pulling than pushing. More horizontal pulling than vertical pulling. You should have at least two pulling exercises for each pushing exercise throughout your training week. More cable rows, TRX rows and dumbbell rows than push ups and bench press variations. The same goes with the ratio of horizontal pulling to vertical pulling. More rows than push ups or pull downs. And if your shoulders are really messed up you may even want to increase that ratio to 3:1 for pulling to pushing exercises.
  2. Go neutral. Use a neutral (palms facing each other grip) with your dumbbell pressing exercises. This puts your shoulders in an externally rotated position rather than the traditional pronated grip which puts you into an internally rotated position. And if you have access to a cambered bar with neutral grips use that rather than doing your traditional bench press from time to time.
  3. Do band pull aparts….lots of them. In my opinion, and others also, band pull aparts might be the king of shoulder health exercises. Incorporate them into your warm tip. Use them as a filler exercise between sets of an exercise. Do them as part of a mobility circuit. Do them at your desk. They basically can be done anywhere, anytime with no harm done at all.
  4. Do front squats or safety bar squats. Most people do not have adequate enough shoulder external rotation in order to get into a back squat bar position. And even if they can get into that position they may just be cranking on the anterior capsule of their shoulder to get into that position. Yes, with front squats you may not be able to squat as much weight, but unless you’re a competitive power lifter who really gives a shit, right? And if your gym has a safety bar to squat with than you have a nice gym you are going to. Use that safety bar for your squats and your lunges.
  5. You do not need direct shoulder work. Your shoulders are getting plenty of work doing push ups, while bench pressing or even when doing some arm work. They probably do not need direct shoulder work with exercises such as military presses, lateral raises or whatever raise variation you can come up with. If you are a bodybuilder, a figure competitor or just training for aesthetics then, yeah, you probably need some direct shoulder work. But if you are just the average Joe or Jane looking to get a good training session in without shredding your joints you might want to lay off the direct shoulder work.
  6. Do landmine presses rather than military presses. If you are that average Joe or Jane that is going to be stubborn enough to train shoulders directly go with the landmine press. This pressing angle is going to be much less stressful on your shoulders rather than trying to get a barbell up overhead. And the added bonus with the landmine press is the anti-rotation core training effect you will get since it is a uni-lateral exercise. What if you don’t have a landmine? Wedge one end of a barbell into a corner of a power rack or a room and now you have your landmine.
  7. Fix your push up. Push ups are not bad for your shoulders. The way you do push ups may be bad for your shoulders. Are your elbows flared directly out to the side? Are your elbows jammed in tight to the body? Are your hands out too wide? Do you not have enough core stability to maintain a neutral spine? Are you reaching your head to the floor or have your eyes up on the ceiling? All of these situations can wreak havoc on your shoulders especially when you add uncontrolled tempo or high volume in. Here are a few cues to think about:
    1. Place your hands a couple inches outside your chest and spread those fingers out like you’re trying to grab the floor. Your fingers should not be flat to the floor
    2. Kick those legs out and keep those legs and your glutes locked out. Think plank position. Think neutral spine between your glutes all the way up to your head. That position shouldn’t change during the duration of your set. When it does change your set is over.
    3. Screw your hands into the floor. Think about turning your hands outward on the descent and ascent. This will create torque and stability in your shoulders and put your elbows in the proper position. Elbows should be at about a 45 degree angle to your torso.
    4. Think about pulling yourself to the floor rather than just dropping to the floor. And on the way up reach as much as you can. Let those shoulder blades move. Do not keep the shoulder blades retracted in the top position.
  8. Clean up your thoracic spine. You know all those mobility exercises that are given to you prior to a training session where the emphasis is to flex, extend and rotate thru the thoracic spine? Or that rolling you do through the upper back on a foam roller or med ball? All those exercises are for the purpose of your shoulder health. If you can not extend through the upper back or rotate through the upper back you are going to put undue stress on your shoulders because you are going to reach your arm into positions it just does not want to go into. The real take home point here? Take your soft tissue and mobility work seriously. It requires just as much focus as your strength work does.
  9. Use some rotation with your movements. If you’re doing cable rows or TRX rows start in a pronated position (palm down) and go to a neutral or supinated (palm up) position as you bring your elbow back. Reverse the movement on the eccentric. If you’re doing some dumbbell pressing work go from a neutral position to a pronated position as you press. You do not have to do this all the time with each rowing or pressing exercise. Just employ it some of the time. The natural movement at the shoulder joint is more of a spiraling pattern rather than a fixed pattern. Train that natural movement.
  10. Go for regular walks….without your cell phone. I am starting to think walks might be the cure for just about everything. They can be used for recovery. They can be used for stress reduction. They can be used to get some natural vitamin D in. And, yes, they can be used to help out your shoulders. What happens when you walk naturally? And when I say naturally, yes, that is without staring at your cell phone though it does appear walking with your cell phone is becoming more natural than not. Anyways, a nice good paced walk will force you into good posture, your arms will swing by your side in a reciprocal fashion with your lower body and hopefully some stress will be reduced which will drop your shoulders out of your ears. Aim for a couple 30-45 minute walks each week.

Effective and Efficient Fitness Training Right Here in Lexington

Request information

Request Information Now!