Plain and simple, healthy shoulders can immensely improve your life.  No one wants to have a bum shoulder, but we have all probably experienced some type of shoulder pain or injury.  In general, injuries are a burden, but shoulder injuries make everything harder during training. Undoubtedly, a shoulder injury can limit your upper body training, but it can also derail lower body training.  

Let’s talk about shoulder mechanics: The shoulder is a complex system of multiple joints that interact to produce movement. When we have excessive motion of one joint (typically the glenohumeral) without enough of other joints (like the scapulothoracic) then we can have movement deviations that may lead to irritated tissues (see right diagram for reference of joints). Learning how to integrate all the joints together in one fluid motion will lead to less strain on the shoulder. For most people, moving their shoulder blade in a purposeful manner can be a new concept. From experience, people tend to over utilize their glenohumeral joint and in turn, do not utilize their scapulothoracic joint fully. This isn’t to say that the muscles of your shoulder should be equally strong, rather each muscle should have an appropriate level of strength to do its job. This is particularly evident in movements like rows, pull ups, push-ups, etc. We see a lot of these movements in EnergyX classes, so I encourage you next time you are performing these movements, to move with intention and purpose rather than just going through the motion. 

Learning how to move through the various joints and gain control of them can be a challenge for people, so check out these exercises that you can incorporate into your training regime to build healthy shoulders.  

Exercise One:  Snow Angels

  • Lie down on the foam roller with your knees bent and your arms stretched out into a “T” position; palms up towards the ceiling.
  • Move your arms towards your head, finishing with your biceps by your ears in an “I” position.  Bring your arms back to a “T” or finish with your arms down by your sides
  • If you cannot get all the way into an “I” position, take it to a “Y” position and work your way towards the “I” position

Exercise Two:  Scapular Clock with Mini band:

  • Position yourself on all fours. Place hands on ground with the band around your wrists. *You can also do this standing up on a wall*
  • Begin by pushing into the ground/wall so that your shoulder blades are set firmly against your rib cage. Starting with the right hand, touch the ground/wall on each number of the imaginary clock (12-1-2-3-4-5-6), returning to the center each time.
  • Repeat with the left hand, starting at 12 o'clock and working your way down to 6 o'clock.
  • Start with a low resistance band and work your way up

Holly Wegmann, EnergyX Coach