What if I told you that stretching and mobility is not the best way to improve shoulder health; would you believe me? At the same time, neither is excessive strengthening or doing handstands every day. Since the shoulder can be so powerful, yet fragile, it goes a bit deeper than your usual strengthen-&-stretch routine in order to bulletproof your shoulders against injuries.
Do as I Say, Not as I Do
For any of you readers who are parents, I’m sure you’ve used this phrase before, and now, I am telling it to you!
2.5 years ago, I had extensive shoulder surgery that was from a build-up of poor strength, too much mobility, and very intense arm movements over many years. I was a dummy who would stretch and stretch and stretch, only then to strengthen with light shoulder weights. At the time, I was a baseball pitcher and was afraid to ‘get too big to throw’, so I avoided strengthening my shoulders like I should… *sigh*, I wish someone would have smacked some sense into me back then!
Now, I currently am the victim of a fluke accident of dislocating my opposite shoulder while competing in my latest Spartan Race (picture above) and find myself scratching my head thinking about this question;
Why is the Shoulder Joint Vulnerable to Injury?
Your shoulder is a ‘Ball and Socket’ joint, and that makes it the most mobile joint in the body. With the gracious ability to move freely comes an even greater emphasis on being strong, stable and secure in all potential ranges of motion; or at least practicing so. Without a complete package of training each type of shoulder motion, you run the risk of having a weak point in your armor, exposing vulnerability and a chance for injury. The good news is that they can be 99% preventable with a training routine that is built upon creating a stronger body from head to toe, designed to take on any challenge life or fitness may throw your way.
Common Shoulder Injuries
More often than not, it is the muscles, tendons or ligaments within the shoulder that take the hit of an injury, rather than bones. This is because your shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, and with that freedom comes the potential risk of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. From athletes to accountants, the most common factor of shoulder injury is repetitive stress or overuse in a specific task can be boiled down to 2 principles;
a) lacking prerequisite strength/stability to be in that position
b) too much, too often of the same activity
Many shoulder injuries can be preventable and even resolved without surgery if a proper ‘Return-to-Play’ protocol is developed and followed. These are some typical diagnosis for acute injuries;
- High-Speed Dislocation
- Repetitive Ligament Overstrain
- Joint Instability
- Upper Cross Syndrome (read more)
- Frozen Shoulder / Lack of Mobility
Luckily, you are not handcuffed! Here are 3 things you can start doing right now that can decrease the chance of injury, increase strength, improve overall shoulder health, and minimize the dangers associated with sports, resistance training & physical activity
#1: Move Your Joints Every Day
Morning, Afternoon, & Night, human beings are designed to move. The easiest way to create a happy and healthy body is not a secret; just move! Below is a link to a video you can follow every day at any time that is guaranteed to help you feel and move better. Save it to your home screen so it is ready to be used at any time.
#2: Don’t Go Too Fast, Too Heavy, Too Often
There are 2 factors that will dictate the onset of an injury; Frequency & Intensity. These balance on opposite ends of the scale, and they can independently be turned up or down to adjust your fitness experience. A perfect blend of the two puts you in a position to thrive and live better every day… but too much of both can definitely be a bad thing.
↑ Frequency + ↓ Intensity = SAFE
↓ Frequency + ↑ Intensity = SAFE
↓ Frequency + ↓ Intensity = LAZY, no improvement of fitness or body composition
↑ Frequency + ↑ Intensity = ONSET OF INJURY (if this is most of your training)
If you want to know more about the ‘Model of Overuse’, watch this video below (the word stress & intensity are interchangeable). But if that little diagram was enough to set off a lightbulb, then keep scrolling.
#3: Train with Unconventional Fitness Tools
Kettlebells, Steel Mace, Indian Clubs, and TRX suspension training are my go-to resources for healthy and strong shoulders. These unique tools are not for ‘leg day’ or ‘shredded traps’. Rather, they activate your large muscles for power, and your smaller muscles for stability and control in nearly every single movement you could imagine.
At Orca Empire Fitness, I coach many classes that utilize all of these fitness tools on a weekly basis – sometimes even daily! My philosophy is that no part of the body should be isolated during the majority of your training; you are a cohesive unit of muscles that work with one another, and your physical training should honor that valuable ability we have.
Stop in for a class to feel the experience, just send us a message here to get started today
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