4 Exercises to Reduce Risk of Shoulder Pain

by - 3:26 PM

One of the most common issues I see in both the clinic and the gym is shoulder pain.  According to a systematic review of 18 studies on the incidence of shoulder pain, 7-26% of the population may be affected by shoulder pain at any given point in time.  On the low end, that is 22 million people in the U.S.

So, if you are currently affected by shoulder pain, know that you are not alone.  Also, know that you do not have to stay in pain.

The majority of shoulder issues arise from performing overhead activities/exercises with poor mechanics and postures. This leads to decreased space for the tendons at the shoulder to move. Clinically, we call this impingement. Due to decreased space, stuff is literally getting pinched between the bone of the upper arm and where it attaches to the body leading to inflammation, pain, and ultimately, degeneration.

To prevent that from happening, a lot of things have to happen at once:
  • The core needs to be stable, so that you don’t hyper-extend,
  • The thoracic spine needs to be flexible enough to extend
  • The scapula(e) must upwardly rotate and posteriorly tilt effectively, and
  • The rotator cuff needs to be strong/activated sufficiently to “suction” the humeral head into the glenoid fossa.
So as you can see, there’s a lot of room for error.

I thought I would give you 4 exercises to help target the problems mentioned above and bulletproof your shoulders.

Dead Bug

Begin lying on your back with your hands extended above you toward the ceiling. Bring your feet, knees, and hips up to 90 degrees. Exhale hard to bring your ribcage down and flatten your back onto the floor, rotating your pelvis up and squeezing your glutes. Hold this position throughout the movement. This will be your starting position. Initiate the exercise by extending one leg, straightening the knee and hip to bring the leg just above the ground. Maintain the position of your lumbar and pelvis as you perform the movement, as your back is going to want to arch. Stay tight and return the working leg to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side, alternating until the set is complete.

Thoracic Extension

Begin with a foam roller or towel roll across the back at the level of the top of the scapulae. Hands behind the head and elbows in tight. Gently lean back over the roller exhaling as you go. Keep the rib cage down. Perform 10 reps, and then move up an inch on the roller. Continue to perform the given number of reps at each level until reaching the bottom of the scapulae.

Pillow Press

Begin with one arm overhead resting on a foam roll with the elbow straight and palm up. The other arm is straight out by your side with the palm up. Be sure the shoulders are not shrugged! Press down hard with both arms and cycle a breath (one full inhale/exhale), and then relax. Perform 10 reps, 3 sets each side. *If you experience shoulder pain with this exercise, add another pillow.

90/90 Bottom-up Kettlebell Hold

Start with the kettlebell bottom up and the hand at shoulder level.  Slowly press the kettlebell overhead till the elbow and shoulder are at 90 degrees. Hold this position for as long as you can maintain your elbow up.  Once you can hold for greater than 30 seconds, increase the size of the kettlebell.

For more information keeping your shoulders healthy or tips on how to look, move, feel, or perform better contact me at jswilliams0659@gmail.com.

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