Tips for Healthy Shoulders

One thing that we continually see in strength training is athletes and weekend warriors having issues with their shoulders. No matter what category you fall into, having a shoulder issue can be a very debilitating injury even if surgery isn’t required.

We use our shoulders so much that overuse and every day wear and tear eventually adds up over time until we reach a point where things take a turn for the worse. Here are a few good tips and exercises you can take with you into the gym or in your own living room to help maintain or improve the health of your shoulders.

Doing YTLW’s Daily 

YTLW’s are a great way to warm up your shoulders before a workout. I make sure to perform them before every single upper body workout and if I remember I will do them before a lower body workout as well. YTLW’s are a great way to strengthen your rotator cuff and protect you against injury.

Using a Neutral Grip When Pressing With Dumbbells

The neutral grip allows a much more natural range on motion when performing any type of pressing movement. It also allows you to keep your elbows tucked in a little more then you would if you were to be pressing with a pronated (overhand) grip.

Use Rings When Doing Pull/Chin Ups

Taking it a step further then the neutral grip when pressing with dumbbells, using rings to do your pull ups or chin ups allows for a completely natural range of motion. The rings allow your shoulders to rotate any way they want, which is perfect for letting your shoulders do what they want to naturally do.

Use Push Ups as a Pressing Movement Whenever Possible

A lot of people shy away from doing push-ups because they think they are an inferior exercise when compared to other pressing movements like benching and military presses. The funny thing is, go into many gyms and you’ll see people can’t perform more than a couple correct push-ups. You can get very creative when it comes to the push up. You could simply load the push up by adding chains, weight vests, bands or even a combination of the three. You could also do push-ups with the TRX or with something like the “Perfect Push Up” that will allow the same natural movement as the ring pull/chin ups. The slide-board is also an option when it comes to the push up, adding a stability component that makes the exercise even more challenging.

Perform More Pulling Then Pressing Movements

Performing a lot of pressing movements can really take its toll on your shoulders. Because of that, it is often recommended that people ALWAYS perform more pulling movements than they doing pressing movements. For most people a 2:1 ratio of pulling to pressing would suffice, but people who currently have shoulder issues would benefit of a 3:1 or even a 4:1 ratio.

Performing Band Pull Aparts

Just like the YTLW’s, band pull aparts are a great way to build your rotator cuff. You can do these in various different ways. You could either do straight arm pull aparts with both arms at the same time or you could add a stability component to one of your shoulders by performing one side at a time. Either way, this is another great way to strengthen your rotator cuff.

None of these movements and tips alone are going to cure someone’s shoulder issues. However, if you are consistent with these (and other) exercises and tips to help maintain and improve shoulder health you will see many positive results over the long run. I know some of the exercises (YTLW’s and pull aparts) can be boring, but I feel it is a solid trade off if one can maintain healthy shoulders into the elder years.

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