Shoulder impingement injuries are one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. Shoulder impingement happens when the bones of the shoulder press and rub against the tendons and ligaments of the shoulder over a period of time, causing inflammation and ultimately pain. It’s caused by poor posture from any sort of repeated overhead activity, such as swimming, lifting, tennis, and other sports involving repetitive overhead motion.
The answer to preventing potential shoulder impingement injuries is proper posture during exercise. Paying careful attention to each move you make during exercise is a habit you should develop. Above all, strengthening the muscles supporting the shoulders should be as important to you as all the crunches you do to get that six pack.
You can build up the muscles surrounding the shoulders by trying out these three exercises to help prevent potential shoulder impingement injuries.
1. Push-Ups for the Serratus Anterior Muscle Group:
Standard push-ups are a great way to strengthen the muscle group lining the front and sides of your rib cage, called the serratus anterior muscle group. These muscles help keep your shoulder blade and shoulder joint stable so they move smoothly.
1. Perform the standard push up as follows:
2. Get down on your hands and knees. Plant your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart and keep them aligned with the shoulders. Extend your legs out one at a time, with your feet a bit less than hips’ width apart.
3. Activate your abs and your glutes. This ensures you’re keeping your body in a straight line.
4. Look up slightly ahead of you rather than facing the ground.
5. At the top of the pushup your arms should be straight. Keep your shoulder blades slightly engaged, but not so much that you impede normal movement.
6. While inhaling, steadily lower yourself to the ground until your elbows are bent at 90 degrees.
7. Hold this position for one or two seconds.
9. Exhale and push back upward. Keep your body in a straight line, with the glutes and abs active. Do not lock your elbows at the top of the pushup.
10. Check your form and repeat for a total of 10 reps.
A simple variation on the pushup is the plank, which is nothing more than holding yourself in the upper pushup position for several seconds. Start on your hands and knees. Move one leg back, then the other, and activate your abs and glutes. Look forward slightly. Return to your hands and knees. Repeat this cycle.
2. Standing or Seated Dumbbell Presses for the Deltoids:
The deltoids help keep the arm bone in the shoulder socket, helping it glide downward and maintain the space in the shoulder socket arch. Standing dumbbell presses are perfect for strengthening the deltoids. Dumbbells are great to use for several reasons, their versatility being first and foremost.
To do a standing press with dumbbells:
1. Ground yourself by grasping the ground with your toes as though you could gather up the floor with your feet.
2.Draw your kneecaps up toward your hips.
3. Activate your glutes without straining. Your pelvis is now in the neutral position.
4. Curve your spine slightly.
5. With the dumbbells held at shoulder height on either side of your head, inhale and bring the dumbbells up above your head. As you bring the dumbbells up, straighten your back until the dumbbells are directly overhead.
6. Do so for 10 to 12 reps.
You can either lift the dumbbells with palms forward like a bar lift or with the palms facing inward. One variation combines the two positions by starting with the dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing in, and then rotating them up as you press the dumbbells over your head until your palms are facing forward.
3. Strengthen the Supraspinatus Rotator Cuff with Angle Raises:
Completing our workout of the muscles and structures that support the shoulder is the angle raise, which strengthens the supraspinatus rotator cuff and helps the head of your arm bone to move freely without putting pressure on the tendons and other structures that run through the shoulder socket.
To do angle raises:
1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and your hands at your sides. Ground your feet, pull your kneecaps up towards the hips, and activate your glutes.
2. Raise your right arm up until it is level with the shoulders. It should be at a 45 degree angle between your front and the side of your body.
3. As you raise the arm, rotate it until the thumb points down when you reach the level of the shoulders.
4. Lower the arm. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps on the right side.
5. Perform the same process with the left arm.
If your aim is to prevent potential shoulder impingement injuries, these three exercises designed to stabilize and strengthen the muscles of the shoulder will do the trick.