According to Dr. Gregory Nicholson of Rush University Medical Center, nearly everyone over the age of 18 will experience shoulder injuries or another shoulder problem at some point. Taking preventative measures is important, but you must also know how to train smartly in the event you do experience an issue. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Strengthen the Rotator Cuff
Dr. Nicholson also notes that 80 percent of all shoulder injuries involve the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that connect the upper arm with the shoulder. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to strengthen the rotator cuff and make it less prone to injury. Include these four exercises in your workout routine just after performing bench presses:
Place your hand and arm vertically across your chest while holding a five-pound dumbbell. Move your arm outward slowly as though you were making a “hitchhiking” motion, then return to the starting position.
Hold a dumbbell directly in front of you with the ends pointing straight up and down. Lift the dumbbell until the bottom edge is about at eye level, then lower with control.
Raise your arm shoulder height, extending your lower arm in front of you to form an “l.” While holding a dumbbell in your palm, raise your lower arm straight up until it is fully extended, then lower to the starting position.
Hold one end of a resistance band in either hand. Keep your elbows close to your side, stretching the band and moving your hands away from your body. Bring your hands back to the starting position slowly, keeping a slight bit of resistance on the band when doing so.
A common problem many people make when performing shoulder exercises is using weights that are too heavy. Personal trainer Rob King recommends starting with 5 lb. weights when performing rotator cuff exercises to avoid shoulder injuries. You should be able to perform 10 to 14 repetitions of an exercise using a particular set of weights. If you are unable to perform this many repetitions, or if you experience pain while exercising, drop down to a lighter set of weights.
Use the Right Form
A good number of shoulder injuries occur because people do not use the right form. Before beginning weight training, consult with a personal trainer who will show you the proper form each exercise. After that, use a mirror each time you work out to ensure you consistently maintain that form. You should ideally perform only 20% of your exercises from a supine position, with the remaining 80% being from a standing, incline, or decline position. Never perform exercises that force you to move in ways that are unnatural or require twisting or maneuvering into unusual positions.
Shoulder injuries rarely get better on their own, and therefore require immediate medical attention. If you experience an injury, follow the advice of your physician and modify your training program accordingly in order to minimize the amount of damage caused.