There’s nothing worse than suddenly getting a sharp pain in your shoulder while high-fiving your buddies after smashing a personal best. Unfortunately, shoulder injuries are very common for anyone who swims, lifts weights or throws something – whether it’s a javelin or a right hook.

Here are some pointers to help protect your shoulders while working out:


1. Avoid or limit behind-the-neck presses, upright rows and behind-the-neck pull downs. They can cause more external rotation at the shoulders and stress your neck by dropping your head forward. High upright rows can internally rotate the shoulder causing impingement.

2. While bench pressing, place a couple of rolled up towels or boards on your chest so you’re not taking the bar too low. This will limit your full bench-pressing movement and reduce the shear on your shoulder joint.

3. It is important to increase the flexibility of the shoulder girdle by stretching the posterior shoulder capsule, triceps and pectorals. Stretches should be held for 15–30 seconds and repeated two to three times. Also, if you still have soft tissue restrictions then a manual therapist can help increase shoulder movement.


Preventative Exercises

Conduct the following exercise sequence to help with shoulder and scapular stabilization:

Perform these positions for 15–20 repetitions and two to three sets.

First, lie face down on a table or over a stability ball with your arms hanging straight down to the floor and palms facing down. Next, raise your arms out to the side, parallel to the floor, while retracting the scapulae. Hold this position for two seconds and lower slowly.

Continue to perform the exercises in this sequence:

  1. With your arms parallel to the floor with the thumbs rotated up.
  2. Raise your arms approximately 30 degrees with palms down.
  3. Raise your arms approximately 30 degrees with the thumbs up.
  4. Raise your arms to 90 degrees with the thumbs up.
  5. Arms placed at the side with the palms downs.


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