One of the most overlooked areas in strength training is the rotator cuff. An unstable and weak rotator leads to poor range of motion, tightness and eventually general shoulder pain. Meantime, you won't get the most out of your strength training if you cannot work your muscles through their full range of motion.
Below are a few shoulder exercises that, when regularly performed, will help you avoid shoulder pain and injury.
Door Stretch/90-90 Stretch
Stand in a doorway or by a wall with your arm at shoulder height and bent 90 degrees against wall. Press your forearms into the wall and slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in your chest. (Check out more shoulder stretches)
Sets/Duration: 2x30 seconds each side
Foam rolling relieves muscle knots and pressure around the rotator cuff. Make sure to regularly roll your lats, delts, biceps and pecs. (More upper-body foam rolling exercises.)
Sets/Duration: 1x30-60 seconds each muscle group
Form is key when performing exercises for shoulder pain. By focusing on proper form, you strengthen small muscles that are critical for shoulder stability.
Lie on your stomach on an incline bench holding two light dumbbells directly below your chest. Pull your shoulder blades together and bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Rotate your arms upward to assume scarecrow position. Hold for a one count and lower to start position.
Hold a resistance band with your arms extended in front at chest height and shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the band apart. Hold for a one count and slowly allow hands to return to center.
It's important to incorporate single-arm lifts into your program. They equalize strength on both sides of the body and prevent imbalances that can cause injury.
Photo: Bryan McCall
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