Healthy shoulders are integral for everything from squats to military presses. It follows that everyone from big bad bodybuilders to MMA fighters to ping pong players need to keep those shoulders as healthy as possible. Here are a few tips that will hopefully allow you to keep those shoulders healthy. By the way, I know there are a ton of different muscles in the “shoulder” but for simplicities sake, I’m just going to refer to it as that.
Tip #1 – Warm-up Your Shoulders
The shoulders are involved in a large variety of exercises and movements. Duh! So, it would only make sense that you warm them up appropriately before engaging in any activity, right? I’m sure that you already warm them up before you do your shoulder day workout, but do you do it before your squat workout? Well, you should. If you want to get those shoulders back far enough to get good bar placement, you need to warm those shoulders up.
What kind of exercises you should do to warm-up?
- Very light weight front/side/rear raises
- Rotator cuff exercises (utilize bands, cables and dumbbells)
- Dynamic shoulder stretching
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. For example, a poorly planned out training program will look something like this:
|Day #1||Day #2||Day #3||Day #4||Day #5||Day #6||Day #7|
What is wrong here is fairly obvious. From Day #2 to #4 the shoulder is getting hammered with weight. From bench presses to military presses, the shoulder is not being given the opportunity to heal up and rest. The moral of the story here is to let your shoulders rest before hammering them again.
Tip #3 – Don’t Bench Like A Bodybuilder
What?!?! Don’t bench like a bodybuilder??! Ever wonder why so many guys/girls get hurt bench pressing? It is because they bench press in a bodybuilding style. The bench press can actually be pretty safe if you stabilize the movement by benching like a powerlifter. What does that mean? Bench with your elbows tucked in at about a 45 degree angle. The bodybuilding style is when the Humerus creates an L shape with the torso. It will take a bit of getting used to but the pay off in the end is shoulders that don’t ache and a big bench press.
Tip #4 – 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 120s 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 #5 – Get a massage
I am not talking about a “massage” at a Spa that has a $5.00 special. I’m talking about a real massage from a Registered Massage Therapist; certified in Active Release Therapy. The real benefit in seeing a RMT is that you can get your fascia broken down and hopefully increase your range of motion. Sometimes people develop an asymmetry in their range of motion due to fascial restrictions and a few therapeutic massages can help alleviate those issues.
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 the google machine, you can find a ton of strategies to keep those shoulders strong and healthy.
Jeff Pearce, Editor-In-Chief
Big Jeffrey Pearce, is a physical culture writer, editor, personal trainer, and a lifetime natural bodybuilder from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been bodybuilding and strength training since he was 16 years old and remains a dedicated gym rat to this day. Big Jeff is one of the strongest athletes you will ever meet, routinely bench pressing 500lbs and tossing up 150lb dumbbells for reps in a typical workout. An honors graduate from the University of Toronto, Jeff’s brains also match his brawn. Jeff has a passion for writing and has been in featured in Muscular Development. Jeff also coaches high school kids on the benefits of strength training and nutrition.