Shoulder pain, in this case we will talk about the rotator cuff, is one of those issues that we see in our overhead athletes. Considering summer time is quickly approaching I would be willing to bet that many are amping up their benching, flys, 6 pack ab show, and bicep craziness early. Not to say that benching is bad or a nice set of guns is but the typical imbalance of training leads to something like shoulder issues and people keep wondering why. One awesome way to train the shoulder without pain (remember, do not train through pain..it’s flat out stupid) is through movements wherea strong grip is needed. Here are some smart choices that go from static to more dynamic.
#1 Deadlifting (static)
- Setting up for a deadlift correctly forces the rotator cuff to fire up because of a term called “irradiation.” When the exercise calls for a tight packed shoulder, you better believe the cuff needs to stabilize the shoulder. Another reason why deadlifts are more than just a lower body movement. It doesn’t mean you have to load the bar with 500 lbs but it does mean you should be doing a hinge movement well and with a challenging weight
#2 Loaded Carries/ Farmer walk variations (static): Start with arms by sides in the classic farmers walks and build to rack walks–>overhead farmers.
- Yes, when you grip something and it has to be heavy it works the cuff. Loaded carries work well here…Always. 1-Arm, 2-arm, any way, they work awesome and are a great strength builder for carryover to lifting heavier. I keep thinking that the more we train clients, the more some weight carries should be in every single phase of every program. They offer so much for something that seems too simple.
#3 Dynamic Stabilization
The true function of the rotator cuff is to stabilize the humeral head into the glenoid fossa. As you raise your arm overhead the rotator’s true roles are to keep the head of the humerus pulled back and down so that it does not impinge. Here is a pretty good picture of the line of pull or the rotator cuff muscles.
- Dynamic stabilization exercises like stability ball wall holds, KB bottoms up screwdrivers, and manual dynamic stabilization exercises to help with these.
Remember that the true function of the rotator cuff is dynamic stabilization and grip work has that effect on the shoulder. Starting with carries by the side (farmers walks) is an awesome place to start along good rowing technique, soft-tissue work for the pecs, lats, and cuff, and improving t-spine position. Find ways to maintain and improve a training effect even with the little nagging issues that many of us are plagued with.
Solid progressions in my opinion start with static–>dynamic. slower–>faster, arms by sides–>arms at shoulder height–>arms above shoulder