Shoulder tightness and injury seems to be a massive problem in this era of every day life and in sport. The current lifestyle of sedentary jobs sitting at desks all day and the joys of constantly being on some form of mobile device throughout the day has led to these issues. This sort of lifestyle only leads to posture issues and can also to a limited range of motion around the shoulders.
Below I have put together my top 5 exercises to maintain and create healthy shoulders.
Five exercises to improve overall shoulder health.
Scapula Push Ups
Scapula Push Ups or Scap Push Ups as they are more commonly known as strengthen the muscles around the scapula (Shoulder blade). The Serratus Anterior is the primary muscle that you will strengthen with this exercise. A strong Serratus Anterior promotes normal scapula motion and shoulder mobility.
Whether it’s in the gym, in your sport or just in everyday life, sound scapulae movement and function will impact nearly every upper-body movement you do. When they are in the correct position and have a full range of motion the scapulae will have enough mobility to stabilise the shoulder. This will protect the shoulder from injury during repetitive movements such as throwing a ball.
I only recently started doing these myself since being introduced to them in Aclaí in Cork. I only wish I knew about the benefits of this exercise much earlier in my training experience.
Passive Hangs are probably my go to exercise for shoulder health now. They are easy to perform, can be performed almost anywhere be it a gym or out in the local park.
The benefits from hanging are countless, so much so that they probably deserve a full post devoted to them. For now though, some of the benefits from hanging are;
- Healthy Shoulders, Elbows, Wrists.
- Forces the shoulders to enter overhead position which one might not be able to achieve without aid.
- Sets the foundation to improve pulling strength.
- Creates a stable shoulder.
A good task to try is the 7 minute hanging challenge. This is where you have a goal of hanging for 7 minutes throughout the day for 30 days. Try it, see the improvements in your shoulder range of motion after the 30 days.
Another exercise that has only recently became a staple in my warm up routine. The shoulder is normally only trained in both an overhead position or through lateral and frontal raises. The problem with these movements is that they are both shoulder flexion movements. As a result of this most people will have a limited range of motion.
To perform this exercise, sit up right and place your hands together with palms facing down, behind your back. Now shuffle yourself forward to lower your shoulders down to the floor as far as possible.
An exercise I learnt from Christopher Sommer and his Gymnastic Strength Training program.
Table Rocks not only work on your shoulder mobility, but they also work on improving thoracic bridging and hip mobility.
Below is a little clip on how to perform the Table Rock.
Internal / External Rotations
Shoulder rotations are good to create good and healthy rotator cuffs. The rotator cuffs are made up of 4 muscles.
- Teres Minor
In my opinion shoulder rotations are key to having healthy, mobile and strong shoulders. These are often an underutilized exercise when it comes to building shoulder strength.
Here is a video of a shoulder internal/external rotation using a band
I would usually complete these exercises as part of my warm up routine and prehab. They can be done anywhere at anytime as the exercises require little to no equipment!