Keeping the shoulders healthy is really difficult for two key reasons: they’ve got the largest range of motion of any joint in the body, and “the shoulder” really consists of two key joints.
The Glenohumeral joint is the ball and socket joint that you’re familiar with, but the scapula (the shoulder blades) are important in your overall health and performance, too. This means you have twice as many chances to go wrong and increased risks of injury or dysfunction
Keeping your shoulders healthy, strong, and mobile is all about training the GH and scapular movements in 3 dimensions. We’re going to give you the full run-down on this in the next post, but here’s a few principles for good training:
- Stretch in every direction – and regularly
- Strengthen in every direction – and move weights with excellent control, even if it means staying a little lighter
- Slow down your movements and concentrate on where your shoulder blades are
- Keep the core tight during any pressing or rowing movements to make sure you’re moving the right parts of the body!
So, we’ve highlighted the risks that surround the shoulder and WHY. Today we’re going through what you should be doing to keep your shoulders healthy.
Shoulder health comes from balance. Reducing tightness in over-demanding muscles and improving strength and active stiffness in weak muscles. Balancing these produces healthy joint movement and positioning.
You ned to make this happen in 4 key directions:
- Overhead pressing (such as the military press or seated press)
- Overhead pulling (like the pull up or chin up)
- Horizontal pressing (such as the bench press)
- Horizontal pulling (like the dumbbell row or chest-supported row)
These are the 4 key movements that are associated with integrated shoulder and scapular movement. Training each of these for strength and full-ROM control is the key to producing effective joint balance.
This means you need to stretch, strengthen, and control in each direction. This combination of lengthening, strengthening, and actively controlling is essential for best health. Here’s an example for the horizontal pressing (since it’s the most popular!):
- Stretch the chest with a wall-stretch
- Control the movement range with band pull aparts and wall slides
- Train effective movement with, for example, the paused dumbbell bench press
This simple 3-step process is key for all 4 directions that your shoulder moves. Work through these kinds of exercises and you’ll find your shoulders get – and stay – healthier and stronger!