Shoulder mobility and stability is so important for a football player! Just think of the forces at play every time they tackle each other. But shoulder injury’s seem to be common among most fitness enthusiasts.
Shoulder health seems to be the Achilles heel for many fitness freaks, from impingement’s to just down right instability and lack of strength. Shoulder presses and side lateral raises help put on some muscle, but the heads of the deltoids are just the beginning when it comes to shoulder function.
The scapula, rhomboids, rotator cuff and the rarely touched rear delts are all equally important to make up a healthy shoulder girdle that moves properly without pain. Throw these exercises into your delt days as well as days when you’re going to be pressing to get the shoulder warm and mobile, and more importantly moving correctly to alleviate pain.
#1 Scapular Retraction Drills
The scapula is technically not a bone-to-bone attachment like many of the other areas in the body. This attaches through tendons and muscles to the rib cage and is actually a free-floating vessel for the shoulders. If your scapular plane of movement is off at all, your shoulder stability and overall health is immediately jeopardized.
Since the shoulder is such a complex joint, being sure you target the root of all problems in the scapula is crucial to getting big, strong boulder shoulders. These drills will be mainly done with extremely light weight (or none at all) and are not to get you big. The aim is to get the correct muscles to activate and hold the shoulders in a stable position.
✓ Lay on either a flat bench or a bosu ball will the chest supported and the arms perpendicular to the body
✓ Using either some light weights or just the weight of your arms to start with, retract the scapula down, back and squeeze
✓ Then begin to move the arms up and overhead in a “Y” pattern and hold at the top with the arms in line with the torso
✓ Repeat this move with the arms to the side and the palms facing up emulating a “T” figure as well as with the elbows bent at 90 degrees and externally rotated back showing a “W” figure
Sets and Reps: 3 x 10-15 on each move
#2 Hanging DB Snatch
The snatch is a great move to build up explosiveness in the posterior chain, but is also great for improving the strength of the the shoulder joint itself. To snatch some decent weight in one hand, one must have incredible form, but more importantly the girdle itself must be able support the weight overhead.
The overhead position is extremely stable because of how gravity works, but many times with poor posture and bad mechanics we’re unable to get much weight into this position. Start off easy on the weight and keep your form tight, then let the weight come naturally to you to support a healthy shoulder joint overhead.
*You can use a dumbbell or kettle bell
✓ Begin with a dumbbell between your feet and the feet a little wider than shoulder width apart
✓ With a flat back and the chest up, squat down to pick up the weight and hold right at the midline
✓ To start the movement, dip the butt down and back and use the hips to thrust the weight up, while shrugging the weight up as high as possible
✓ Drop under the weight into a full squat and let the weight float to the overhead position
✓ Once locked in, stand up straight with the weight directly overhead
✓ Lower the weight back into a front rack position and then drop back into starting position
Sets and Reps: 3 x 4-6 each arm
#3 Corrected Strict Presses
The majority of individuals who see “shoulder press” on their workout log will unfortunately perform the move incorrectly. Rather than getting the weight back behind their head into the most stable position from a mobility standpoint, they will keep the weight in front of the head on the concentric and eccentric portion of the lift and use just a portion of their delt strength to get the weight up.
The best sign of shoulder mobility is being able to get the shoulder up and back in a direct path and being stable in that position. Pressing up, getting the head forward and the weight behind the head with the elbows back are all equally important in pressing a lot of weight, correctly.
✓ Starting in the front rack position, take on a grip that is wider than shoulder width apart
✓ Engage the scapula and lats and drive the weight up in front of the face
✓ Once the weight is right at forehead level, begin to push the weight back while simultaneously pushing the head through
✓ This will get you into a position that is safe for the shoulders to hold a lot of weight overhead
✓ Fully extend the arms into a locked position and then lower back in front of the head into a front rack position
Sets and Reps: 4 x 8-12
As you can see, these are just a few moves that will help strengthen the scapula muscles, create stable overhead position and correct form when pressing. These are not just things to perform until your shoulder feels better. Continue use of these tactics and kiss your shoulder pain goodbye and say hello to strong, stable and mobile shoulders!