The shoulder joint is a highly mobile joint and relies on the strength and stability of its surrounding muscles for good function. We need a nice smooth, controlled movement of the shoulder blade (scapular) and stability at the shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) for good upper limb function and staying injury free.
You may be aware of the four rotator cuff muscles that are small, important stability muscles at the shoulder joint. They can be prone to tears, strains, tendinopathy or trigger points leading to pain - so ensuring they are strong is important. The less talked about muscles are at the shoulder blade and ensure a smooth movement occurs at the shoulder. Our shoulder joint makes up two thirds of our arm elevation movement, with the other third contributed by the scapular, so dysfunction of these muscles leads to a shoulder joint at risk of injury!
4 EXERCISES that promote stability and control at the shoulder....
1. SHOULDER EXTERNAL ROTATION
Stand side on to resistance band, keep elbow at your side and pull outwards against the resistance slow and controlled.
Do 15 reps x 3 sets
Pro tip - keep shoulder blade in a set back position to get the most out of the exercise, and make sure the elbow stays at a strict 90 degrees angle through whole range of motion.
2. FOUR POINT KNEELING ARM RAISE
While kneeling with hands under shoulder knees under hips, slowly raise arm arm and hold 5 seconds. We are working the arm/shoulder that is still on the ground.
Do 10 reps x 5 sets
Pro tip - make sure spinal alignment is spot on (back flat), and engage the core to maintain position. Try and "push away" from the floor to avoid the weight bearing shoulder blade sinking when lifting opposite arm.
3. FIT BALL PUSH UP ON WALL (OR FLOOR)
Stand on tip-toes and do a push up keeping the body nice and straight.
Do 10 reps x 3 sets
Pro tip - gently bring shoulder blades together while pressing in against the ball to engage the scapular muscles.
4. SINGLE ARM KETTLEBELL PRESS
A higher level exercise. Kneel or stand with good posture. Perform an overhead press of the kettlebell, slow and controlled.
Do 8 reps x 4 sets
Pro tip - don't go too heavy too quickly!
As always, if you have a shoulder injury it is important to first get assessed by the physio before attempting these exercises as they may not be appropriate for you and your current injury.
If you need help with shoulder pain, injury or just want some more great stability exercises feel free to get in touch...
Pete Dal Lago