Top 5 exercises to protect your shoulder 

The shoulder is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body.  There are certain muscle groups that are needed to provide the shoulder stability and help it perform at its most optimal level.  The following exercises are designed to focus on stabilizer muscles that are often missed with most training programs.  These muscles include the serratus anterior, rotator cuff complex, and lower trapezius.  In this blog, I will give a brief description of each muscle group followed by exercises that can be done to help strengthen them.

Serratus anterior activation is needed in order to keep the shoulder blade stable.  The function of the serratus anterior muscle is to allow the forward rotation of the arm and to pull the shoulder blade (scapula) forward and around the rib cage. The serratus anterior muscle also allows the upward rotation of the arm, which enables a person to lift items over their head.

The rotator cuff is a muscle group composed of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.  All four of these muscles are major players and have to work together in order to provide stability to prevent injuries such as impingements and rotator cuff tears.

Lower trapezius activation ensures a stable base, which allows the shoulder joint to move freely and effectively. As well, the lower trapezius promotes scapular depression which is helpful in preventing impingement when reaching overhead.

The following are exercises designed to focus on these 3 muscle groups.

 

Push up plus

Setup

Movement

Tips

Bilateral Shoulder extension

Setup

Movement

Tips

 

 

Shoulder Internal and external rotation

Setup (Internal rotation)

Movement

Tip

 

Setup (External rotation)

Movement

Tip

For optimal performance the shoulder also needs mobility.  It is common for the posterior (back) part of the shoulder to be tight.  This prevents the shoulder from rotating down as the arm elevates creating decreased space and can cause subacromial impingement. If the thoracic spine mobility is limited, it can make it difficult to raise your arms over your head without compensating movement somewhere else in the body.  The next two exercise focus on improving the shoulder and thoracic spine’s ability to move the upper extremity through full range of motion.

Posterior capsule stretch

Setup

Movement

Tip

Open book/Thoracic extension

Setup

Movement

Tip

Remember that all of these exercises should be pain free and are done for prevention of injury.  If an injury does occur see your doctor or physical therapists for a more thorough evaluation so an individualized plan can be made.

To see videos of the exercises above type the following code into our patient portal.

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Patient Portal: advantagerehab.medbridgego.com/