Well ladies and gentlemen, bow hunting season is upon us, and what better way to prepare for the upcoming hunt than to strengthen your shoulders to ensure a steady and clean shot?! Many of us understand shoulder presses to be a staple of shoulder workouts according to conventional wisdom, but did you know that the primary muscles targeted with this movement (the deltoids) often overpower the smaller stabilizers that help prevent injury?
The shoulder girdle is an extremely complex system with well over 27 different muscles that act directly on the true shoulder joint, as well as countless other muscle groups that work together in symphony to help stabilize the surrounding structures. The true shoulder joint is an inherently unstable joint; I teach my patients the analogy of it being like a golf ball sitting on a golf tee; it is a relatively shallow cup compared to the size of the ball we are dealing with. The true shoulder joint is known as the glenohumeral joint, which consists of the head of the humerus sitting in a shallow cup called the glenoid fossa. A fibrocartilage-based structure called the glenoid labrum provides some added stability to this joint by helping to deepen the socket, however the joint is still relatively shallow, therefore it relies on muscular stability of the rotator cuff muscles to keep the ball well positioned in the socket. The rotator cuff consists of four different muscles that help keep the proverbial golf ball on the tee. I’m sure you have all heard of someone who may have “torn their rotator cuff”, and it can be a nasty injury to deal with if it is not treated properly with rehabilitative exercises, and/or in more severe cases surgical repair. The rotator cuff consists of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis muscles. The first three of these are responsible primarily for external rotation of the shoulder, and the subscapularis is the only internal rotator. A perfect balance of tension between all four muscles is required to compress the humerus into the socket during shoulder movement to prevent any slipping out of its socket. Furthermore, adequate stability and motor control of the muscles acting on the shoulderblade (a.k.a. the scapula) is paramount to provide proper stabilization of this joint complex. This involves muscles such as the rhomboids, the middle trapezius, lats, biceps, pectorals etc.
If you feel popping, clicking, or sharp pain in your shoulder or upper arm, particularly with overhead movements, you may have some degree of impingement or tearing beginning in your rotator cuff tendon attachments. The following exercises can help you strengthen your shoulder and back muscles to prevent injury, or minimize worsening of any pre-existing damage.
If you have any sharp pains or weakness that worsens with exercise, you should consult your local chiropractor, physical therapist, or in severe cases an orthopedist who specializes in the shoulder.
1. Kettlebell arm bar 1-2 sets x 10 reps per arm
2. Resisted external and internal rotation 3 sets x 10-15 reps per arm
3. Low rows 3 sets x 10-15 reps (try this on a TRX)
4. Abducted external rotation 3 sets x 10-15 reps per arm
5. Face pulls (aka transverse extension) 3 sets x 10-15 reps
6. Kettlebell pullover 3 sets x 10-15 reps
1. Doorway stretch 3 sets x 60-90sec per set
2. Childs pose 3 sets x 60-90sec per set
3. Foam rolling for the following muscles:
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your shoulder health, or simply want some feedback on your routine please do not hesitate to reach out to me at my office line (904)-775-8949 or email me at email@example.com
James Antun D.C. M.S. C.P.T.
IFPA professional bodybuilder