With great mobility, means a lack of stability.
By: Recovery Specialist Dr. Kamraan Husain
The shoulders are the most mobile joint in the body. As Athletes, more often than not, we need to focus our efforts on stabilizing the shoulder through its many ranges of motion, especially before class.
There is no fool-proof way to prevent injury, but placing emphasis on the preparatory work before class can help. Focus your efforts on improving the mind-to-muscle connection before you hit the Turf and you’ll greatly lower your risk for injury, plus improve your performance in class.
Here are my top 5 shoulder exercises (performed with or without a band) to prepare your body for a safe and effective workout on the Turf.
1). Band Pull-Apart + Circumduction
The key to this exercise is to maintain tension in the shoulder blades throughout the movement and move ONLY the arms. The best coaching cue is to try to move the arms independent of the shoulder blades (challenging your mind-muscle connection).
2). Straight Arm Pull-Down (palm forward)
Performed with elbows at full extension and a slight hinge/bend in the hips. The key is to squeeze your arms and shoulder blades down, thus engaging the rotator cuff muscles at the end of the movement.
Performed lying in prone, face-down on the ground, the focus should be placed on retracting the shoulder blades and elevating the torso into extension. The best coaching cue here is to keep your feet on the ground, bring your elbows towards your butt, and squeeze the glutes as you elevate your torso.
4). Bear Crawl Shoulder Taps
Similar to the traditional rehab exercise known as the “Bird-Dog”, this bear crawl shoulder top exercise places emphasis on slow, controlled, trunk stability. At Tone House, we spend a lot of time in bear crawl, runner, or gallop positions. It makes sense for our preparation for class to include some form of shoulder activation while also connecting the trunk and lower body.
5). Banded Scapular Retraction + Depression
Finally, the scapular retraction and depression exercise allows us to prime our shoulders in three primary ranges of motion (extension, external rotation, and depression). The shoulder blades should be squeezed together aggressively to help improve the overall “mind-muscle” connection of the shoulders.
Each of the listed exercises should be performed to your comfort level – these are activation exercises and are not meant to completely fatigue you out before class. These exercises identify unique ways to target the shoulder musculature (in this case, the rotator cuff muscles around the shoulder blades) and will help have a positive carryover to your performance on the Turf.
Need to see Dr. Kam for a nagging pain or injury? Email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.