When shoulder pain strikes, frustration sets in. The really unfortunate thing about shoulder injuries is that usually when they’re present, you’re faced with long-term pain. It’s rare to find someone who experiences shoulder pain for a day or two and then simply heals and never faces it again.
Usually what ends up happening is you are faced with moderate pain at the start and over time, it continues to nag and nag at you. Eventually, it may take you right out of the game entirely.
Fortunately, you can fight back. You don’t have to become a victim to shoulder pain if you have the right approach. Let’s look at four steps you can take right now to avoid suffering.
Never Neglect A Warm-Up
First things first, if it’s shoulder day, or even chest day for that matter as you shoulders will still be working hard whenever you do chest exercises, you must warm-up. You might skip the warm-up to help save time during your gym session, but do this and you’ll have plenty of time when you’re sidelined with injury.
Take five minutes and grab a five pound weighted plate. Hold this directly in front of the body with the elbows tucked into your sides, bent to 90 degrees. Now rotate that plate in and out as far as you can go.
Once that’s finished, next do the same, this time with the elbows straight in front of you, bent at 90 degrees with the hands pointing up. Rotate from side to side, using caution not to push yourself too far. You should simply be feeling a gentle stretch within the shoulder muscles.
Watch Your Form
Next, it’s imperative that you watch your form whenever doing the exercises you’re performing. For instance, when doing your shoulder press, make sure that you aren’t hyperextending the elbows, which can then end up placing far more strain on the shoulder joint.
Likewise, when you lower the weight down through your overhead pressing exercises, don’t lower too far. You only need to bring the elbows down to the 90 degree point and then press up again.
The further you lower down, the greater the stress and strain on the shoulder joint will be.
Finally, when doing any lateral or front raises, also watch how far up you’re taking the weigh as well. 90 degrees should be your limit. Lift that weight higher than this and again, you’re stressing those tendons and ligaments supporting the shoulder joint.
Be Choosey With Your Exercises
Choosing your shoulder training exercises wisely is a must. If you are already experiencing shoulder pain or have in the past, there are a few you’ll want to steer clear of.
Upright dumbbell or barbell rows for instance are one move that can cause more shoulder irritation than other exercises. Likewise, some people will notice great pain if they press behind the neck, so always press in the front of the body instead. The only exception to this is if you have very strong rotator and flexible rotator cuff muscles. In this case you may be able to get away with pressing behind the neck on occasion.
Strengthen The Smaller, Less Showy Muscles
Finally, the last point to note if you want to stay shoulder-injury free into the future is to ensure that you are spending enough time strengthening the smaller, less showy muscle groups.
Rotator cuff exercises are a must-do for anyone who is planning on training shoulders heavy. Again, this goes along with the importance of doing a thorough warm-up as well.
At a separate time from your usual shoulder workouts, focus on doing internal and external rotations, lying on the side of your body and moving the palm up and down holding that five pound weight with the shoulder tucked into the side.
While these muscles will never be seen, they’ll play an integral role in keeping your shoulder joint safe and healthy. Failing to strengthen these smaller muscles could mean a far greater risk of pain later on as you continually add weight to the bar.
If you abide by these guidelines as you get on with training your shoulders, you can keep sidelining shoulder injuries at bay.