Developing Resilient Shoulder Strength and Stability: 3 Exercises to Take Back Your Shoulder Health
When it comes to pull ups, bench pressing, shoulder presses and other common exercises you may perform in the gym, having strong and stable shoulders with controlled mobility of your shoulders is imperative to physical performance and shoulder health.
Second to low back pain, shoulder injuries are the most common problem I see with my patients. Time and time again I hear of people exercising through shoulder aches and pains, and despite being able to work through the pain, it most definitely affects their quality of life, exercise performance and physical capacity (both inside and out-side the gym).
Even if you don’t have shoulder pain, taking care of your shoulders as preventative care is essential to a long lasting career not only in the gym, but for performing common every day activities without limitations (i.e. reaching for a glass out of the cup-board, lifting up your child, or reaching behind your back to grab your wallet).
Below are my top three favorite exercises to help preserve the function, strength and resiliency of the shoulder, that will also address stability and controlled mobility throughout the movement.
#1 Glute Bridge + Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Hold
To begin, grab two kettlebells moving into a floor press position with your arms perpendicular to the floor. The kettlebells should be in a bottoms up position, meaning that the kettlebell should be upside down as you are gripping onto the handle. The palms of your hands should be facing each other as the kettlebells are positioned directly vertical from your shoulders. Your shoulder blades should be protracted slightly (moved slightly away from your spine causing your shoulders to be lifted form the floor).
Extend your hips by squeezing your glutes. Your body should move as one so you do not flare your ribs or arch your back. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees at the top of the position.
From here. your shoulders should remain in a vertical position with the kettlebells situated directly over your shoulders for the duration of this exercise as you lower your hips to the ground and back up to the position as seen in the above picture.
The challenge here is to keep your shoulders stable and in position as you perform the glute bridge movement.
#2 Tall Kneeling Landmine Press
To perform, place a barbell in a corner so it does not slide around when completing this exercise. You then need to get into a half kneeling position by kneeling down with your right leg while holding the barbell in your right hand; vice versa with completion on left side. The barbell should be in line with the shoulder that you are using to press the weight.
As you are pressing the weight away from you make sure to not keep your shoulder blades pinned back. Let your shoulder blade protract (move away from your spine) and then retract (moving towards your spine) as you return to your starting position.
Focus on keeping your hips and shoulders square as you press from this position.
Do not move the weight by extending your lower back or shrugging your shoulders
Once you hit a full range of motion, consciously and slowly row the barbell back to your starting position (controlling this movement is key to performing correctly).
Remember, stability and owning the movement is key so if you are finding that it is hard to maintain this position or use the right technique with this exercise you may be using too much weight.
#3 Kettlebell Pull-Throughs
Begin in a high plank position with a kettlebell by your right/left side.
While working to keep your chest parallel to the floor and resisting movement through-out the rest of your body, slide your right/left arm underneath your body to grab the kettlebell handle.
Remaining in a stable plank position, with your butt down and core engaged, pull the kettlebell underneath yourself to the other side.
Continue to pull the kettlebell to alternating sides until the set is complete.
Of course, these exercises are not a one size fits all approach. If you have pain or dis-comfort performing them, seek advice from a medical professional or trainer to assess whether or not you are properly performing them or need further evaluation and care.
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