As we make the transition from snow to spring runoff, it’s time to get those shoulders in check. The shoulder is the most unstable joint in the body and prone to a variety of injuries, especially if you participate in overhead activities such as kayaking and climbing.
To prevent a shoulder injury from occurring, it’s important to have a balanced shoulder—that is, it’s important to make sure the shoulder’s primary movers (the pecs, lats, and delts) don’t overpower the shoulder’s dynamic stabilizers (the rotator cuff and periscapular muscles). Here are some exercises that promote dynamic stabilization of the shoulder and keep things in balance.
Push-Up Plus—Perform a standard push-up, and at the top of the “up” phase push through your arms to round your upper back. Take care to keep your lower back straight (keep your butt down). Perform three sets of 10-15 repetitions, three days per week. Increase the difficulty by performing on an unstable surface like a BOSU ball or medicine balls.
Goal Posts—Lie on a bench or Swiss ball with your elbows bent to 90 degrees and your arms out to your sides at a 45-degree angle. Slowly rotate your shoulders back and return to the starting position. Perform two to three sets of 15-30 repetitions, three days per week.
T’s—Lie on a bench or Swiss ball with your elbows straight and your arms out to your sides at a 90-degree angle. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you raise your arms to horizontal. Perform two to three sets of 15-30 repetitions, three days per week.
Drop/Catch—Lie on your side with a pillow under your arm and your elbow bent to 90 degrees. Start with your shoulder rotated back and drop a weighted ball down; catch and rotate back to the starting position. Repeat for 30-60 seconds per set, three sets per arm, three days per week.
Posterior Shoulder Stretch—Lie on your side with your shoulders over the top of each other, your bottom arm at a 90-degree angle from your body, and your elbow bent to 90 degrees. Rotate your bottom arm down toward the ground until you feel a stretch in the back or the side of the shoulder. Place your hand on top of your wrist to hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat two times on each side once a day.
Jason Lunden is a board-certified clinical specialist in sports physical therapy at Excel Physical Therapy in Bozeman. For more information on injury prevention, check out his blog at excelptmt.com.