Have you ever had a shoulder injury, or experienced pain in your shoulder area? If so, you know how difficult life can be if you suffer from shoulder pain. Simple, day-to-day chores become a challenge and uncomfortable to perform. Injuries to the supportive structures of the shoulder, such as the bones, tendons, bursae, cartilage and ligaments can all result in shoulder pain. Additionally, wear and tear, overuse and/or repetitive overhead movements and trauma to the area play a major role in the development of shoulder pain. But, there’s good news: you don’t have to live with the pain and discomfort. Read on to find out how to strengthen your shoulders to reduce or even eliminate this movement-limiting problem.
First, let’s address the common shoulder injuries and causes.
- Rotator Cuff Tendonitis is the inflammation of the rotator cuff tendon, which occurs as the result of overuse and/or repetitive movements.
- Rotator Cuff Tear is caused when the rotator cuff tendon degenerates due to overuse, repetitive overhead motions, aging or falling. These can cause partial or complete tearing of the rotator cuff. Tears in the rotator cuff usually cause pain in the deltoid muscle, especially when the affected arm is lifted from the side.
- Shoulder Instability occurs when the humeral head is not sufficiently maintained within the centre of the shoulder girdle (also known as the glenoid fossa). If the joint becomes too lose, the head of the humerus may partially slide out of place, resulting in a dislocation of the shoulder.
- Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis) is a tightening of the capsule that surrounds the shoulder joint, which leads to poor movement of the shoulder and causes shoulder pain.
- Shoulder Impingement is when the rotator cuff tendon is squeezed, and occurs most frequently in the supraspinatus, which is underneath the boney arch of the acromion.
- Arthritis of the Shoulder occurs when loss of protective cartilage in the shoulder joint creates pain and limited shoulder movement. This can be caused by degeneration (as is the case with osteoarthritis) or system inflammation (as with rheumatoid arthritis).
Causes of Shoulder Pain and Injuries:
- Age increases the risk of shoulder pain or injury. Individuals older than 40 are at greater risk, often as a result of wear and tear on the shoulder.
- Previous injury, such as a fall or strain from exercise, is often associated with continuing or returned shoulder pain. For example, flared elbows while performing push-ups, unstable DB flies, wide grip pull-ups or pull-downs often result in a shoulder injury.
- Sports or repetitious work is an obvious cause of shoulder pain and injuries. When recovering from this type of injury or strain, it’s important to rest the arm and shoulder as often as possible, and reduce inflammation with ice.
- Bad posture and body mechanics also increase the risk of shoulder injury and pain. Standing or sitting with rolled shoulders increases the risk of impingement syndrome because the space the rotator cuff tendons and muscles have to move through is decreased, thus increasing the risk of the structures underneath the acromion being squeezed.
To help keep your shoulders strong and keep your joints safe and free from injury, there are some target muscles you need to exercise. Be sure to be careful of your form – a personal trainer can help make sure you consistently perform the exercises properly to ensure injuries don’t occur. Some targeted muscles you should exercise are:
Target Muscles to Exercise:
Exercise the front, back, and over-the-shoulder by doing Dumbbell lateral raises and shoulder presses.
These muscles are part of the upper back, and can be exercised with Dumbbell shrugs.
Also in the upper back, band drills strengthen these muscles.
These muscles support the shoulder joint and benefit from external rotation exercises.
Supraspinatus and Infraspinatus
Dumbbell lateral raises also good for these muscles that support the shoulder joints.
Located at the front of the shoulder, these are strengthened by upright external rotations (goal post rotations).
Perform bicep curls to strengthen the upper arms.
Strength the back of the upper arm with tricep extensions.
Don’t want to look up specific exercises for each of these? I’ve got you covered with a complete workout that targets these areas. Check it out below.
While strengthening your shoulder muscles is a great way to avoid or heal from injury and pain, there are a few other things you can do to prevent injuries or the recurrences of shoulder pain. For ladies who carry purses, lighten up on the content so the weight isn’t harming your shoulders. The same can be said for anyone (men or women) who carries bags, backpacks, etc. If you’re doing lifting work or carrying grocery bags, try to focus on using both arms to balance the use of the muscles.
Have any questions or worries about shoulder or muscle pain you’re experiencing? Send me a message – I’d be happy to help!