3 types of shoulder exercises to reduce shoulder pain

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It’s very rare these days to meet someone that has not suffered shoulder pain. We spend a lot of time at the desk and we simply aren’t as active or as strong as we used to be. Knowing what shoulder exercises to do to reduce shoulder pain can be tricky. But here’s three types of shoulder exercises you should be doing and some good rules of thumb when it comes to maintaining healthy shoulders and reducing shoulder pain.

As always, before looking at shoulder exercises and training, make sure you pass something like this 10 Step Self Screen at a minimum. Knowing if there are any potential risks or injuries is the critical first step when planning any training program.

Type 1: Shoulder mobility exercises

These type of shoulder exercises are designed to increase or reestablish range of motion. They are particularly useful to offset all the hours at the desk and to prepare us for activity. As the video shows there’s a vast array of shoulder mobility exercises you can do such as rib grab and reaches, quadruped rotations and kettlebell halos. Shoulder mobility exercises can be anything that improves thoracic or glenohumeral joint. Completing these after you complete the relevant trigger point work will give the best effect.

Type 2: Shoulder stability exercises

Shoulder stability exercises are probably one of the most overlooked types of shoulder exercises when it comes to shoulder health. Once we have mobilised the shoulder we will then need to add the relevant stability to the joint to allow us to perform. Shoulder stability exercises should challenge scapula, rotator cuff and/or glenohumeral stability in both horizontal and vertical planes. My favourite shoulder stability exercises are the arm bar, banded face pull and the bat wing row to help recruit those stubborn muscles of the thoracic (rhomboids and lower traps) after long days at the desk.

Type 3: Shoulder integration exercises

Once we’ve mobilised and stabilised and we’re ready to start integrating more advanced movements and we can shift outside of traditional barbell shoulder exercises by;

  1. Loading a single side with a dumbbell or kettlebell or;
  2. Starting in a developmental stance e.g. half or tall kneeling

This is a great way to challenge the body, fire up the central nervous and challenge trunk stability. Shoulder exercises such as the bottoms up press, half kneeling press and renegade row are great options here.

Finally let’s talk about ratios. In order to maintain healthy shoulders it’s important to utilise horizontal pulling movements more than push movements. This includes vertical pulling as it has a strong emphasis on internal rotation of the shoulder by using the lats. Be sure to maintain a minimum of 2:1, that’s two horizontal pulls to every push (and vertical pull).

As you can see there are a lot of options when it comes to shoulder exercises, but if you’re choosing the best bang for your buck and keeping your push/pull ratio in order there’s absolutely not reason why you can’t build strong, healthy shoulders. Remember to follow the mobilise, stabilise and integrate approach along the way.

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