Having dislocated my shoulder more than once I know a thing or two about shoulder pain and how it can affect your training, or even bring it to a grinding halt. These injuries have been a great learning curve in keeping shoulders healthy so I have put together 5 simple tips that will help keep your shoulders pain free and keep you training.
- If it hurts, stop!
Whilst this may sound blatantly obvious you’d be surprised how many people work through pain when they train. Let me tell you now, unless you earn a living from training it is not worth it, you are not helping your shoulder here. If your shoulders hurt when you bench press then it would be wise to remove it or at the very least lower the weight and concentrate on perfecting your technique so you can bench press pain free.
- Get mobile
A lack of shoulder mobility is often a precursor to shoulder pain. If you lack full mobility of the shoulder then getting this back should be high on your list of priorities if protecting your shoulders is something you are interested in. Simple tests can be used to assess this, such as the wall shoulder flexion test.
If you can’t perform this then it would be a good idea to remove all overhead work, such as pressing and chins, until you improve your mobility.
- Build a stronger back
So much of what goes on at the shoulder is determined by what is happening to the shoulder blades and the muscles that have a pull over them. By making sure that your program contains plenty of back work you are ensuring the health of your shoulders. Try aiming for a ratio of 2:1 in the favour of pulling exercises over pushing exercises
- Learn how to press properly
Now before all of you roll your eyes and tut, I am being serious. A lot of people neglect the proper mechanics of pressing exercises and put their shoulders at risk by doing so. As I said in point 3, the back plays a big role in the control of the shoulders and making sure its remains active when pressing can be the difference between wincing or winning. When lowing the weight concentrate on squeezing the back and keeping the shoulders down and away from the ears.
- Vary your grip
If you are pain free and have a good range of motion then the simple trick of varying your grip can go along way to keeping you pain free. Changing from barbell bench press one program phase to neutral grip DB bench press the next will ensure you don’t develop overuse issues in the rotator cuff. You should also do this for your pulling exercises. Trust me here; your shoulders will thank me.
Stay strong, stay healthy.