If you’ve kicked up your workouts in preparation for your summer wardrobe, tell me, how are your shoulders feeling?
The shoulders are an area that tend to get really beat up and rarely receive the proper TLC. It’s tough enough that most of us carry our stress in our necks and shoulders. To make matters worse, the shoulder is a complex system that depends heavily on a balance of strength and mobility to function properly.
If you’ve ever nursed a sore shoulder, you know that it’s hardly ever cut and dry. The slightest tweak can take weeks to feel better. A bit of advice – never muscle through shoulder pain. If you don’t have the range of motion, modify rather than butcher the exercise. There is plenty to do in your workout that will not further aggravate an injury. And there is PLENTY to do outside of your workout that can help prevent further injury.
Shoulder injuries are notorious for ‘creeping up’. Oftentimes it’s overuse that finally does the shoulder in. You know, carrying your overstuffed bag on the same shoulder every time. Working at a computer all day. Letting your poor posture get the best of you. Sleeping in a bad position night after night… Then you hear a pop when you reach for your kids from the driver’s seat, or you’re trying to break the record for how many grocery bags you can carry, or you’re working out.
The shoulder joint is quite precarious. The head of the humerus sits against the scapula. This pairing is designed for a tremendous range of motion and is held together by an intense web of connective tissue that needs to work synergistically together. This means you need both stiffness and flexibility.
One of the first things we do that compromises our shoulders is allow for the chest to tighten. If you sit at a computer all day, you are most definitely setting yourself up for shortened and tight pecs. It can also lend to poor core engagement, and over-extended, under-activated back muscles (rhomboids – the ones between the shoulder blades).
By opening the chest and strengthening the back (teaching the muscles to hold tone and shorten), you stand a much better chance of gaining proper movement through the shoulder blades. From there you can better position your overhead press for maximum benefit that’s free of injury.
A healthy chest, back, and shoulders will open you up to all kinds of exercises that can bring you a beautifully toned upper body not unlike Michelle Obama 😉
Here’s a video playlist of daily movements you can do at home to help you achieve a better range of motion for your body.
**Disclaimer: If you cannot press overhead and have no interest in doing all the things that could help change that… then so be it. There is more to life than overhead presses. However, if you do have the opportunity to train your body to function optimally and for longevity, I strongly encourage you to do so… Just please don’t lose sleep over it 😉
Shoulders TLC Playlist (the top right corner will show you the full playlist)