The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, and that’s a double edged sword. On the one hand, you can scratch your own back, juggle chainsaws and do the YMCA.
But the downside is that the shoulder is far more susceptible to injury than more stable joints.
Here are three ways to help keep it in check.
1- Do More Back Than Chest Exercises – You spend most of the day at a desk in a flexed posture with the back muscles stretched and the chest muscles shortened, then (if you’re like most people) go to the gym and hammer your chest with various presses, before throwing in some lat pulldowns at the end. This is a recipe for bad shoulders.
The Fix – For every set of presses you do, do TWO sets of rows.
2 – Use A Variety Of Pressing Exercises (not just bench pressing) – Bench pressing is great, but for healthy shoulders you need to allow the shoulder blade to move freely now and then.
The Fix – once a week use either push-ups (add bands if you need to increase resistance) or angled barbell presses instead of bench pressing.
3 – Sit Less – Yes, it’s easy for us to say, we work in a gym, we’re not chained to a desk all day doing, yknow, spreadsheets or whatever it is people with real jobs do. But sitting really is something you want to minimise for healthy shoulders and spine.
The Fix – Every time you fire off an email, stand up. Take any opportunity you can to walk to a water fountain or to generally move around. The best posture is one that’s always moving.
4 – Learn How To Breath – Granted, you’ve made it to adulthood so you probably have a decent grasp of the basics. But you can always improve. An upper-chest breathing pattern will cause constant tightness in the shoulder and neck muscles as they work overtime to help you breath. These muscles should be relaxed, while the diaphragm does the work. If you sound “wheezy” during exercise, if your shoulders rise and fall when you breath heavily or if your trapezius muscles are constantly tight, you should work on diaphragmatic breathing. The
The Fix – Do this exercise every night before sleep, and at the end of every workout.
-Lie on your back with one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach.
-Take a deep breath, and consciously breath into the abdomen, so that the hand on your stomach rises, but the hand on your chest does not.
-Exhale, conscioulsy making the exhale longer than the inhale, fully emptying your lungs. Repeat for ten breaths.
5 – Buy A Foam Roller – You know, those little swimming noodle looking things that people roll about on to induce inexplicable agony?
The Fix – We’re not asking you to roll about on it. Just to lie on it, with the roller running length wise down your spine, supporting your head and body. Lay your hands to the side, palms up, and don’t move for 5-10 minutes. This is a low intensity stretch for the muscles at the front of the body, which will help prevent them pulling the shoulders forward into a rounded position. Plus its literally the easiest exercise in existence.
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