It is Monday, also known as the National Day of the Press Bank. Like many others in the same weekly routine, you head to the gym after work, get to the locker room and throw your bag in a locker, hit your fist with a training partner and go to the gym to start the presses.
In the first set you feel like a rock star. You raise the volume of your iPod a little and add some weight.
In the second set you notice something strange. The shoulder that has felt "twisted" for the last two weeks is beginning to bother you again. You've been ignoring it, thinking it's something that happens when lifting weights. You throw it away and add a little more weight thinking "Once I get warm, I'll be fine."
In set three, the pain is still there. But you would rather jump into an erupting volcano to skip a day of weights. There is no way you can give up. So you add a little more weight.
In the fourth set, "Houston, we have a problem!"
For many, the scenario mentioned here is familiar. One of the areas most commonly injured by those who train is the shoulder. Usually these injuries can be prevented. With a little knowledge and a few simple tips, you can greatly reduce the chances of having shoulder problems again.
Anything we can do to promote a greater extension, particularly in the middle back section, is not only good for shoulder health, but for posture in general.
Mark Young, owner of MarkYoungTrainingSystems. com
Improves thoracic mobility
Let's start with a simple test. Now, no matter where you are, stand up and raise your hands to the ceiling as much as possible. Stretch and hold that position for between 20 and 30 seconds.
Seriously, do it. This article will not go anywhere.
Welcome again. Do you feel better?
Now, do not be angry, but that simple exercise was not the real test.
You've probably found yourself sitting in front of your computer for who knows how long and that little exercise that you just did essentially "rebooted" your spine and helped counteract the flexed position that has been destroying your back for the last few hours.
"We live in a flex-based society," said Mark Young, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of MarkYoungTrainingSystems. com. "And usually, with few exceptions, anything we can do to promote further extension, particularly in the middle back section, is not only good for shoulder health, but for posture in general."
Having clarified that, get back on your feet.Although, this time, bend your shoulders forward. Now try to raise your arms above your head, leading them straight in front of you.
A bit difficult, right?
Now do the opposite. Stand up, inflate the chest, shoulder blades back and inward. Imagine that you are trying to put your shoulder blades in your back pockets. Again, try to raise your arms above your head.
This time should have been infinitely easier. The reason is simple. You have reduced your kyphotic, or curved, posture of the upper back, which placed your shoulder blades in a more advantageous position, allowing them to move more easily and optimally.
Although standing up and stretching your arms towards the ceiling is helpful, two other exercises can also help.
Quadrupedal extension rotation
Stand in four, knees directly between your hips, hands aligned with the shoulders and chin inwards so that the neck is in a straight line with the spine.
Place your right hand behind your head.
Keeping the left arm completely straight and making sure there is no movement in the lower back, rotate the elbow of your right arm towards the left knee.
From there, extend back to the starting position, "opening" the right side by directing the same elbow towards the ceiling and again making sure that all movement comes from the middle section of the back.
Do the same with your left elbow and hand.
Make two or three sets of between 8 and 10 repetitions per side.
Bench Thoracic Spine Extension Mobilizations
Kneel on the floor with a rug under your knees and your elbows on a bench. From there, simply move backwards so that your buttocks move towards the lower part of your legs while the middle section of the back sinks simultaneously to stretch. Hold the position for two or three seconds and return to the starting position.
Make two or three sets of between 8 and 10 reps.
Improves shoulder stability
Although mobility in your middle back is crucial to the overall health of the shoulders, stability is perhaps more important.
Placing your shoulder blades in a more advantageous position, down and back, will help you a lot when it comes to keeping your shoulders happy. In fact, even if it does not seem true, the movement in your shoulder blades is usually what causes your pain.
Let's use the press bench as an example. Your shoulders are your anchor and allow you to press more weight safely (and effectively). Having shoulders with little stability is like trying to shoot a cannon from a canoe.
Strengthening the region around your shoulder blades will create more stability, which will improve not only the overall function of your shoulder, but also your press bench.
One exercise to add to your arsenal is the W of an upright shoulder (the standing shoulder W). This is an exercise to help your shoulders and all the small muscles that protect your rotation popularized by Mike Reinold, the athletic head coach and physiotherapist of the Boston Red Sox.
To perform the upright shoulder W, take a piece of rubber tube with your hands at a distance similar to that of your shoulders while keeping your thumbs up, instead of pointing them back. This last point, explains Reinold, is important.
Keep your elbows glued to your sides and rotate your arms outward so they look like the letter "W". Make sure to press your glutes to not compensate or use body language. Hold the position between 1 and 2 seconds and return to the starting position.
Make two or three sets of between 8 and 10 repetitions.
Leave the bank
As for the actual exercises, the push-ups are in the group of the best, along with squats, deadlifts and chinups, to name a few. The push-ups are usually completely ignored because they are considered "too weak" compared to (guess!) The press bench.
After all, what's so great about push-ups?
To begin with, they help develop upper body strength. Without any equipment, you can work your chest, shoulders and triceps, as well as your core.
In addition, unlike the press bench, which is an open-chain exercise, that is, your hands can move freely, the push-ups are a closed chain exercise, which, among other things, is advantageous for the health of the shoulders in general.
Look at it this way: when you exercise in the press bench, your shoulder blades are almost glued to the bench, unable to move.
On the contrary, with the push-ups, your hands do not move. The shoulder blades "detach" and can work in their normal range of motion.
Push-ups are one of the most versatile exercises out there. For many, the weight of the body is only challenging enough. But those who are more advanced can add resistance bands, chains or weight vests to exercise with a higher load.