Shoulder Injury Prevention

The shoulder girdle represents a very complex structure in the body that requires muscle balance and stability for proper function.  Certain athletic activities place a great deal of stress on the shoulder region.  Athletes who are classified as “overhead” athletes need to be sure that the structures of the shoulder are able to withstand the forces that are applied to them.  This will not only ensure optimal performance, but will also prevent injuries to the region that are more common in activities that involve increased stress at the shoulder.

A good place to start would be to look at the static posture of an individual.  Although it is not the only upper body postural distortion that could occur, a common one to come across is a forward head/rounded shoulder posture or what is called upper crossed syndrome (as described by Janda).  This postural distortion typically involves the following muscle imbalances.

Tight/Overactive Muscles

*Pectoralis Major/Minor, Upper Trapezius, Levetor Scapulae (in the upper back/neck region)

Weak/Underactive Muscles

*Rhomboids, Middle Trapezius, Lower Trapezius, Deep Flexors of the neck, Serratus Anterior

Other issues commonly seen with individuals with this type of posture is a tight latissimus dorsi and weak rotator cuff mucles.  A way to help address these imbalances to place exercises in one’s strength training program for this body region.  Exercises to work on these weak or tight areas can easily be implemented in a pre-lift warm-up or can be included in the main part of the training session.

Here are some movements you can use to include in your program.  In a future post, I will add some additional exercises and include a program that can be used as a warm-up prior to training.

Blackburn holds

YTWL Series

Band Joint Traction (Thanks to Dick Hartzell at Jumpstretch), Scapular Wall Slides, Band Pull-Aparts

Dynamic Blackburns

Standing Static Pec Stretch

Push-Up Plus

These are just some of the exercises that may be used to promote mobility and/or strength around the shoulder girdle.  In upcoming posts I will include more exercises, along with some routines that may be used in a training program to help prevent injuries to the shoulder.

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