Posts Tagged ‘rotator cuff’

Having strong and healthy shoulders is crucial when it comes to physical activity. The shoulders are used in some way for most muscle building exercises. Bench press, military press, pull ups and even squats involve the shoulder muscles to varying degrees. The shoulder is the most mobile joint on the body, meaning that it has the greatest range of motion. For this reason it is also quite unstable and has a high risk of getting injured. Go to any gym and you’ll come across people who have injured their shoulder in some way at some point. In some really bad cases a shoulder injury can mean that you can’t even put on a shirt without pain let alone lift weights. If you want to continue to develop muscle and strength then it’s really important that you look after your shoulders.

Tips on keeping shoulders healthy

Here are some simple tips to help keep your shoulders healthy. These may seem obvious but it’s amazing how many times you see people go straight into lifting weights without any warming up.

Note: Only follow these tips are if your shoulders are currently healthy and pain free. If you already have a shoulder injury, you should get it seen by a doctor and look into rehabilitation exercises

1)      Warm up the body thoroughly – We all know that warming up before exercise is important but I can’t stress enough how important it is to ensure your shoulders are nice and warm before lifting weights. So make sure you get your body temperature up by doing whatever works best for you. I prefer rowing as it also warms up the shoulder area better than the something like cycling

2)      Warm up the shoulders – Once you’re warmed up it’s time to get the blood flowing around the shoulders. Stand with your arms held out to the side and make small circles in a clockwise motion, gradually increasing the size of the circles. Do this for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat again but this time move in an anti clockwise motion. Repeat this for as long as it takes for the shoulders to feel warm.

Now pick up set of light dumbbells and perform a set of side lateral raises, front raises and bent over reverse flies. This will warm up the anterior, medial and posterior heads of the shoulder, in other words the front, sides and rear.

3)      Start light – Start with a light weight that you can easily do 10 reps on for the first set. Gradually build up to your working sets. Going heavy on the first set risks injury. I find that I feel stronger on the heavier weights if I’ve done a couple of lighter sets to ramp up to my working sets.

4)      Don’t perform heavy, and low behind the neck presses – Pressing heavy weight behind the neck puts a lot of stress on the rotator cuff. It’s even worse if you lower the weight below your ears. Personally, I try to avoid heavy behind the neck presses altogether.

5)      Perform pull ups or rows in between pressing sets – I find that if I perform a set of pull ups in between my shoulder pressing sets, I feel stronger and more stable when I press. This isn’t a superset but just alternating sets between pull ups and shoulder presses. Remember, it’s important to perform as many pulling movements as you do pressing to keep the shoulders healthy and physique balanced.

6)      Include rotator cuff exercises – Rotator cuff exercises are often neglected but are crucial to maintaining healthy shoulders. There are a range of exercises that you can do. The link below describes in details the importance of the rotator cuff and exercises to strengthen it.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/criticalbench24.htm

7)      Perform band pulls – One of the causes of shoulder problems is bad posture caused by sitting down all day. In order to help avoid this you should perform band pull aparts on your off days. I normally do about 100 of these in 5 sets of 20. I also perform them from varying angles. This well help strength  the posterior part of your shoulders and maintain a good posture. You’ll need a resistance band which is pretty cheap. The video below is one I found on YouTube and demonstrates various band pull movements.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKBsia-o9N4

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