Shoulder pain can be, well, a pain.
It can complicate your training, keep you out of the gym, and prevent you from participating in the sports you love to play.
Those who’ve experienced shoulder pain can attest to how difficult it can make life.
There are a number of things that are associated with healthy shoulders. Fortunately, by addressing these areas, you can prevent or possibly remedy shoulder injuries.
#1 – Thoracic Spine Mobility
A mobile upper back, or thoracic spine, is necessary for normal shoulder movement.
A tight and inflexible thoracic spine will prevent the shoulder from moving how it should move, thus will undoubtedly increase one’s risk for shoulder pain.
You can thank sitting for that. Sitting has become the universal position for relaxing, eating, working… We do everything in the seated position.
Sitting usually involves hunching, and staying hunched all day makes our upper backs all tight and inflexible.
If you’re like most people and sit a lot, it’s important to do mobility work to prevent inflexbility. This would involve foam rolling and using dynamic thoracic extension exercises.
#2 – Upper Back Strength
Balanced upper body strength is another important factor.
So we have “push” muscles (pecs, triceps, front delts) and “pull” muscles (traps, biceps, rear delts).
Typically, our “push” muscles become way too strong in proportion to our “pull” muscles.
When we become imbalanced in this manner, or shoulders become stressed during regular movements.
Throwing a ball, carrying a box, reaching overhead for the top-shelf, and etc. all become incredibly straining to your shoulders.
By keeping the upper back (the “pull” muscles) strong with exercises such as rows and pull-up, you can prevent this strain from ever happening.
#3 – Avoiding Pattern Overload
There’s a reason why our upper-bodies commonly become imbalanced… it’s because we overuse our “push muscles.”
Movements in both sports (e.g., throwing, passing, tackling, serving) and in everyday life (e.g., writing, typing, driving) typically involve our “push” muscles. There aren’t many movements that regularly use the “pull” muscles.
Not only is it important to do more for our upper-backs to correct this imbalance, it’s just as important to do less with our “push” side.
Constantly doing the same movements over and over again are necessary sometimes, but can inevitably lead to joint damage. This is called “pattern overload”.
An easy solution to this would be to decrease the emphasis of the “push” muscles in the gym, increase emphasis on the “pull” muscles – not only restoring a balance to the upper-body, but giving our joints a break from the constant repeated stress.
You’re already using your “push” muscle enough outside of the gym. Why keep pounding them more than you need to?
Sometimes it’s hard to address these types of issues, eventually leading people towards injury.
Having a coach help identify these areas for you and put you on a training program that corrects these issues is key for making progress in the long-run and staying injury-free.
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