As a competitively natured individual, I have come to realize that many of us have grown accustomed to dealing with nagging injuries; cranky shoulders in particular. The severity of discomfort likely varies from day to day based on hydration levels, diet induced inflammation, or simply overuse throughout the week. Because the shoulder is such a complicated joint, it can be a long and frustrating process to identify the root cause, and even more tedious to fix it.
Complications could be eventually traced back to the biceps, triceps, pecks, lats, traps, rotator cuff muscles, midline stability, or thoracic mobility. Heck, even tight ankles could be causing shoulder pain for an Olympic Weightlifter performing a decent amount of snatching throughout the week. Below I have compiled a very simple protocol that will likely allow you to get your shoulders back to health, and/or alleviate any shoulder pain you are experiencing.
1. The first thing that I recommend to everybody experiencing shoulder pain is so simple that most people laugh at it…hang from a bar. That’s right, get some weightlifting straps, crank them into a pull-up bar and accumulate :20-:30 seconds of passively hanging at a time. In 2010, orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Kirsch participated in a study conducted on 92 individuals who were perfect candidates to go under the knife due to various shoulder complications. Of the 92 individuals who participated in his study, 2 dropped out due to personal reasons. The results..? Virtually 100% of the remaining subjects cured their shoulder pain. Yep, go ahead a re-read that last part. I won’t get into his theory as to why hanging is so beneficial, but if you are curious he does have a book out there on the subject matter that you can swipe off of amazon.
2. Dumbbells are your best friend. I love barbells too, but dumbbells keep your joints honest. The second element to Dr. Kirsch’s protocol involved lots of LIGHTWEIGHT repetitions involving dumbbells. High pulls, presses with various grips, rows of various angles, front raises, lateral raises, and carries. Generally speaking, the anterior shoulder gets a lot of love (too much love). It is not too common to perform an exercise in which the posterior shoulder gets attention. If this isn’t balanced out, complications will surely arise. To combat this, extra time needs to be devoted to doing things that strengthen and/or activate the backside of the shoulder girdle. If you aren’t sure where to start with this, feel free to reach out and ask. There are dozens of simple things that you can do
3. My last piece of advice is to make use of the tool that has been a long time favorite of Professional Baseball players for years: Crossover Symmetry. Over time, the hangs will create space in your shoulder girdle, dumbbells will create strength and better activation, while Crossover Symmetry will create stability in the joint. The routines that Crossover Symmetry provides on the sign provided are a great place to start, but there are dozens of other exercises, and hundreds of routines that can be performed to fortify your shoulders. For example, overhead squatting with the bands pulling your hands forward, and mobilizing thoracic spine with 2 lacrosse balls taped together is an excellent method for warming up to snatch or jerk. Professional Baseball players are multi-million dollar assets. If their trainers are using this tool to keep them on the field, it is probably worth some of our attention.