One thing I would absolutely tell my younger self is that prehab exercises do work! ⠀
Spending a little time before or during your workouts now will pay you back tenfold in the future, particularly when it comes to protecting the more vulnerable areas such as the shoulder.⠀
However, as with most things, it’s not what you do its how you do it. The key to all shoulder care exercises is the alignment and centration of the ball in the socket. If we can get this right then we have a solid chance of the movements doing what we think they’re doing, and learning to access, use and strengthen some of those more vulnerable structures.⠀If we get this wrong then the things we think are helping can, in lots of cases, make things worse!
Keeping that in mind my top three exercises for shoulder health are:⠀
1️⃣ Side lying external rotation: I tend to always use either a pad or a rolled up towel to abduct the humerus slightly. This allows you to be more successful at recruiting the cuff musculature and low traps, as opposed to cranking heavily with your lats. Dominating an external rotation exercise with your lats will not only take away from the main purpose of the movement, but also the lats are a major spine extensor – pulling through them will pull you out of the ‘canister’ position that we try so hard to maintain, and in to the ‘scissor’ position (which in short is not where we want to be!).⠀
2️⃣ Banded face pull: I like the half kneel position most of the time, having one hip in flexion and the other in extension means its quite easy to keep the pelvis in neutral. A neutral pelvis allows for a property oriented ribcage, therefore scapulae able to find their ‘home base’. ⠀Performing this exercise in a standing or seated position requires significant control of the anterior core to refrain from pulling into extension (scissor position). Not that I have anything against the other ways of setting up for the exercise, but I see those as a more processed version.
3️⃣ Prone trap raise: I tend to find clients are much more successful with these when we focus on one limb at a time, so this option is my preference over a traditional ‘Y’. ⠀
I cue the movement to be initiated with a downward shrug of the shoulder. ⠀
In my opinion cueing the ‘pinching shoulder blades together’ causes excessive adduction or the scapulae and the movement becomes dominated by lats and upper traps. ⠀
Give these three a try as part of your upper body warm ups, or even as a filler between heavy movements and hopefully you’ll notice the difference!
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