You get strong shoulders and you fix shoulder pain the same way. Here are 3 steps to achieve strong and pain free shoulders:
1. Train to have strong and stable shoulder blades (scapula)
2. Train to have a flexible and strong thoracic spine
3. Make sure you are training an equal amount of our 8 upper limb movements every week. And find which of the 8 are your weakest and focus on them more!
Step 1 – So what does having strong and stable shoulder blades look like?
It looks like having a good array of scapula stabilizing exercises in your program. Planks? Yes planks or ok but there are much better choices out there.
We commonly start our clients with a basic shoulder tap on the hands and knees (click this link to see the video). While on your hands and knees take one hand off the floor to touch the other shoulder. You want to be able to do this without you shoulder collapsing on you or your trunk and spine moving. It is really important to not progress to the next level until you have earned the right to by showing good control over the current level.
Once this is too easy you can hover your knees off the floor and even move into a push up position and continue the shoulder taps. To add more challenge for the scapula you can reach down and touch your foot (yoga style) or turn into a high side plank on your hand. Plate slides are another great progression.
Now you may feel your core working hard and on fire while doing these exercises. This just shows you another principle we don’t have time to talk about in this blog – having a strong core helps you have strong shoulders!
Step 2 – So what does having a flexible and strong thoracic spine look like?
It looks like making sure you are foam rolling and mobilising your thoracic spine multiple times per week.
We like exercises such as those in our thoracic mobility playlist on youtube.
Step 3 – train all 8 upper limb movements regularly and work on your weaknesses.
These are the 8 movements that you should include in your weekly training programs:
When we assess clients with shoulder pain they usually have very clear weaknesses in some of these movements. Some even get left out completely.
It is important to state here that trying to work on these movements with weak shoulder blades and a stiff thoracic spine usually doesn’t work out very well. So make sure steps 1 and 2 are going well while trying to build up your capacity in your weak movements.
We nearly always see when a client can perform these 8 movements well with decent weights they have pain free and STRONG shoulders.
So there are some tips to have strong shoulders and also help your shoulder pain.
Remember it is always important to see a Physio to help guide you through the various movements and levels. This blog might seam simple but remember under everything simple is a lot of complexity.