Rotator Cuff Blues? 3 Ways to Balance Them For a Stronger Upper Body
You’ve probably felt that pesky pain you’ve endured in your shoulder when doing any upper body strength training workout. Ever wondered what it is and why it seems to feel so brutal after consistent and repetitive training?
When it comes to your shoulders, one of the most often discussed sites of injury is your rotator cuff. Shoulder pain is unfortunately very common in many overhead sports such as football, baseball, swimming, weightlifting, and gymnastics-style training. Pain is a complex topic that scientists are learning more about every day, and there is a wide variety of compounding issues that can cause a person to feel pain in one place or another.
With that said, a common cause of shoulder pain is a lack of balance on both sides of the joint, meaning that your rotator cuff is not able to do the job that it needs to do, leaving you with a pain and weakness in your shoulder. In this article, we will dig into what the rotator cuff is and 3 sure-fire tips that you can implement today in order to help bulletproof your shoulders.
What is the rotator cuff anyway?
A lesser known fact about the shoulder girdle is that there are not any actual bony attachments that connect in order to keep the joint stabilized. Rather, your shoulders are held together entirely by “soft” structures such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues.
What this means in practice is that without proper care for your shoulders, they are likely to be at a higher risk for injury due to their inherent instability.
This is where the rotator cuff enters the picture. The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that help stabilize and move the shoulder. You can remember these muscles using the acronym S.I.T.S.:
- Teres Minor
There are several excellent resources available to you online to learn more about the anatomy of the rotator cuff, so we will not spend any more time discussing that here. Rather, we’ll dig into what really matters to you as an athlete or everyday adult training overhead strength. Here are 3 tips to help you move, stretch, and strengthen your shoulders to stay healthy, injury-free and moving better in everyday life.
- Move your joints through their full ranges of motion.
The old adage “use it or lose it” is appropriate here, although you might better think of it as “move it or lose it.” With any joint, you need to move it through its full range of motion on a regular basis in order to maintain mobility and pain-free movement. The key here is a full range of motion, however, and not just the abbreviated movements that most people do in the gym or at home.
A great place to start learning how to move your shoulders through their full range of motion (think 360-degree strength and mobility) is the GB Fundamentals Course. This program will help teach you the ins and outs of how to stay strong and mobile while training bodyweight style workouts, all while giving you different warm-up exercises and mobility drills that you can train from the comfort of your own home. Finally!
Basic exercises such as the bear crawl and crab walk, both included in the GB Fundamentals Course, will help balance your rotator cuff through a full range of motion shoulder movements.
Mobilize your shoulders, chest, and back like these GB Athletes with our Online Courses!
- Stretch the front of the shoulder and chest.
The second tip in order to maintain a balanced rotator cuff is to stretch the front of your shoulder and chest. Unfortunately, many of us have careers that necessitate us spending excessive amounts of time hunched over in front of a computer screen or sitting at a desk. This poor posture, combined with improper training of nothing but bench press and curls, leads to super tight muscles like the pecs, biceps, lats, and more.
For many adults, even the simple task of reaching their arms overhead can place too much stress on their shoulder girdle. The weak muscles of their rotator cuff cannot overcome the tight muscles in the front, and problems arise as a result of this imbalance. If this description sounds like you, then be sure to check out the GB Stretch Series and especially the Thoracic Bridge Series. This course is a comprehensive upper body flexibility program, and it will take you through shoulder extension, thoracic extension, shoulder flexion, and everything you need to live a strong, pain-free and more highly active and enjoyable lifestyle. For those of you with tight shoulders, which is most all of us, the GB Thoracic Bridge Series is be a game-changer.
- Strengthen the back of the shoulder and upper back.
Lastly, in order to bulletproof your shoulders, you need to strengthen the muscles of your rotator cuff and upper back – plus, a well-defined back looks good on you. Rather than trying to isolate each individual muscle of the rotator cuff, you are better off starting out with compound exercises such as bodyweight ring rows, weighted mobility dislocates, and shoulder prehab scapular shrugs, all found in our Online Courses.
Keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drills to strengthen your rotator cuff. The GB Foundation Series has many, many more exercises that will help bulletproof your shoulders, including a lot of the integrated mobility drills from our upper body workouts. Several of these movements are not those commonly found in regular gyms and traditional training programs, but they are worth their weight in gold once you begin including them in your fitness routine.
GymnasticBodies shoulder strength is a surefire way to protect and strengthen the muscles of your rotator cuff so you can keep living life to its fullest – and strongest – you adventurer you; get started now with the GB Online Courses!