Due to the shoulder being such a complex joint it is also one of the most common place to find injuries in the fitness world. When we look at daily lives and the make-up of the shoulder joint, it is easy to see why.
Keeping your shoulders in tip top condition
Some injuries lead to other injuries; for example a lot of people that have suffered from shoulder dislocations then go on to suffer from shoulder instabilities. Also, people who have had rotator cuff strains then seem to suffer with rotator cuff tendinitis if they don’t rehab properly and stay on top of things.
When we look deeper into the main reasons for imbalances we come across a couple of reoccurring themes...
Flexibility, along with agonist/antagonist imbalances.
How many people leave the gym straight after they have necked their post workout Pure Whey 80 shake? How many actually spend a good 15-20 minutes (ideally even more) stretching out the muscles they trained in that session or spend say 15 minutes, doing mobility work and stretching before they train. In my experience, I would say only around 1 in 5 people actually do their pre and post workout stretching.
There are also lots of situations outside of the gym which effect these imbalances. For example, sitting in the incorrect position at your desk or sitting hunched whilst driving. If you spend a large portion of your day stood or sitting incorrectly, then we are fighting a losing battle with flexibility BEFORE we even step foot in the gym.
WHY DOES THIS CAUSE SHOULDER INJURY?
The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. Yes, meaning movement should be able to happen in all planes of movement. However, when there are imbalances in the muscles surrounding the joints there is added strain put on the joint pushing it out of place. This means that there is a high possibility that the nerves and tendons will get impinged, causing pain throughout the range of movement within the joint.
WHAT CAN I DO?
From personal experience and through helping clients, i have found that this approach works best;
Program planning is vital!
Push muscles tend to get worked more than pull muscles, I look to sort this, depending how bad the posture imbalance is, by working the pull muscles on a ratio of 2:1 in comparison with push muscles.
Even when we look at sessions, a shoulder session would start with rear delt work and always include great postural exercises like face pulls and spider crawls.
Keeping on top of your joints is vital so work this into your sessions. For example, if your goal is to build muscle, perform compound movements like shoulder press after your shoulder muscles have had a chance to fill with lots of blood and are pretty protected.
Here is an example shoulder session focusing on postural work
Rear Delt machine
2 warm up sets
4 working sets of 30 reps holding each for 1 second
Face Pulls with external rotation
4 working sets of 15 reps holding each for 1 second
DB Side Laterals
4 sets of 10 reps controlled throughout
Machine Press super set with Over & Backs
4 sets of 8 reps to ¾ lockout.
Follow this with a good 15 minutes of stretching focusing on the muscles that will get tight in your daily routine, such as the front muscles. Think of the muscles that you may have wantedto get MASSIVE when you started and MAY have trained more – Pecs and biceps along with the muscles you progressively tighten from sitting and living a stressful lifestyle – hip flexors, adductors, shoulders, traps.
Next time I will look at how you can help your joints through nutrition and supplementation.
Hope this has helped