This is a guest post from GameChanger Coach Rob Riccobono
If you lift weights, you probably have shoulder pain. If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, you probably have shoulder pain. If you are an American citizen……you probably have shoulder pain. There are many causes for shoulder pain, but there are two that I see most frequently: poor upper body posture, and lack of upper back strength. Poor posture usually occurs from sitting in a hunched-over position too often (work, class, on the computer). This leads to lack of mobility and limited movement, which yields pain. Lack of upper back strength causes pain because this weakness forces the front of the shoulder to do more work, resulting in discomfort. You’ll be amazed at how properly performed exercises can alleviate pain caused by these two factors.
Exercise # 1 – Band Pull Apart
One exercise that can take some stress of the shoulders is the band pull apart. This is a simple, convenient exercise that can be done anywhere: at the gym, your home, even at work. Band pull aparts strengthen the upper back muscles directly, and can eliminate some shoulder pain caused by any weakness. Check out this video by Jason Ferrugia for proper form. Grab a band, keep your elbows locked out, and pull it apart until it reaches your chest. Any light resistance band is perfect for this exercise. Aim for 5 sets of 20 reps a day. Take a closer grip for more resistance, or grab wider to make the exercise less challenging.
Exercise # 2 – Chin-ups
Believe it or not, another exercise that can help with shoulder pain is the chin-up. Chin-ups can increase one’s back strength in relation to shoulder and chest strength. When someone lacks strength in their back compared to the front of the body, that person is more susceptible to shoulder issues. Many gym goers rely on barbell and dumbbell rows for their back development, but being strong and fit enough to pull your own body weight is a great indicator of potential shoulder health.
This is another strength exercise that can be performed at home, all you need is a pull-up bar. If bodyweight chin-ups are too challenging, you can use a resistance band to assist you with the movement. Many commercial gyms have assisted pull-up machines as well.
Exercise # 3 – T-Spine Peanut
You are probably unfamiliar with this next movement, but ever since I added it to my regime I’ve had a noticeable improvement in shoulder health. It’s called the t-spine peanut, or simply the peanut. The peanut is an exercise tool formed by taping too tennis balls or lacrosse balls together. Place the peanut between your upper back and the floor, fitting your spine between the two balls. Perform a series of crunches up and down, extending you upper back towards the floor. Here’s a demonstration from Coach Mike Boyle.
A constantly rounded upper back and lack of shoulder mobility is often the culprit of shoulder pain. This movement combats that rounding, and helps people reclaim the shoulder range of motion they’ve lost. This isn’t a strength builder, but the shoulder health benefits gained from it will certainly help you with strength gains.
Many people accept shoulder pain as a natural part of life, something they have to deal with as the get older. This doesn’t have to be the case. Being stronger and moving better can lessen much of the pain you suffer from. Give these exercises a try, be consistent with them, and see if they bring you the relief you’ve been searching for.
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