How to warm up correctly and keep your shoulders healthy permanently
The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, just like the hips. When flexible, the shoulders are capable of an incredible range of motion in all directions. With this range of motion comes an increased possibility of injury, and therefore many precautions must be taken when training shoulders with any form of resistance.
The shoulders technically have over nine muscles, but for the sake of simplicity and weight-training specific discussion, we will only be speaking of the superficial muscles. There are the deltoids which have three different heads: posterior (front), medial (side) and posterior (rear) and the trapezius muscles which start at the base of the neck and run down the upper back.
When commencing a shoulder workout, you must get the joint warm and loose. Wide shoulder swings to the front and rear at a medium pace and with focus on the widest range of motion are ideal. These exercises bring blood to the area and prepare the shoulder joint for resistance training. Stretching the pectoral tendon is also necessary and can be done with a TRX or a vertical beam or doorway.
Most shoulder workouts will begin with a pressing movement; this is not always a necessity but is very common. The key to keeping the shoulders healthy is to start out light, slowly allowing the joint to become acquainted with the first particular movement. Too many times in my personal training career have I seen clients want to attempt what I would consider their “working weight” their first set. This is not ideal, and puts too much immediate stress on what is a very injury-susceptible joint. Working up incrementally will allow you to feel how your joint and muscles are responding to the increasing weight load and you will begin to develop a solid mind-body connection with this set of muscles. While the posterior (front) deltoid does the majority of the work in a pressing movement, all the shoulder muscles are experiencing stress, further evidence that a proper warm-up is necessary.
Take note of how much your shoulders come into play in your chest movements, your back movements and even your arm and leg movements. There are very few exercises in which the shoulders are not needed. With this amount of stress of one joint, maintaining a healthy warm-up and flexibility routine is crucial and will allow you to stay injury free throughout your entire life. We will touch more on this in the next article and speak about more shoulder exercises that will help you develop and maintain well-rounded, flexible, tone and healthy shoulders.