Why is load increase important to get shoulder ready for summer?
01/07/2019 by Pivotal Motion
Like most of our body tissues,
especially our musculoskeletal system, preparation is important before any
sporting season or tournament. This is because it prevents the onset of
injuries, a concept which is particularly important for the shoulder joint.
Shoulders are delicate structures owing to their natural anatomy. The glenohumeral joint is a ball and socket
joint with not a lot of bony congruence. Therefore, the shoulder relies heavily
on ligamentous and muscular support for its’ structural stability. This
contrasts with the hip joint (another ball and socket joint) where there is
good bony congruence. The socket (acetabulum) covers a lot of the surface area
of the ball (femoral head). Due to the shoulder’s lack of inherent stability,
it would be a recipe for disaster to get back into the sporting season with no
build up in exercise load on the shoulder.
What does increasing shoulder load mean?
Shoulder activation, mobility and strengthening exercises starting
approximately 2-3 months prior to the start of a sporting season is an
appropriate description of ‘increasing shoulder load’. This can be achieved in
one shoulder programme which should be done at least twice a week.
‘Increasing’ load means gradually progressing the exercise
programme over the 2-3 months by:
the exercise to a more difficult variation.
the frequency of doing the shoulder workout.
adding power and plyometric exercises (add one month prior to the season
adding sports specific exercises (add one month prior to the season commencing)
Examples of shoulder exercises:
is great for stretching the posterior shoulder (shoulder capsule, posterior
rotator cuff muscles)
exercise is great for opening the anterior shoulder/chest region which is often
tight from poor posture. This exercise also helps with strengthening the
shoulder blade muscles into a more effective position (retracted and depressed)
exercise fires up the rotator cuff muscles and prepares them for action during
more complex compound exercises where their role is in stability.
Prone Lower Traps Raise:
lower trapezius muscle is important for keeping the shoulder blade depressed
while performing overhead movements to avoid shoulder impingement.
Dumbbell Military Press:
exercise is a great compound exercise designed to improve overall shoulder
strength, particularly in the overhead position.
Lat Pull Down:
exercise is a great compound exercise working primarily the latissimus dorsi with
assistance from other scapula depressors, including the lower fibres of the
trapezius. These muscles keep the scapula depressed during overhead movements
to avoid shoulder impingement.
Seated Cable Row:
compound exercise works on all muscles that retract the shoulder blades to give
the arm (humerus) a smoother range of motion away from any impediment by the
Example of Exercise progression by adding variation:
shoulder external and internal rotation in 90 degrees abduction (arm lifted to
the side 90 degrees from the trunk) instead of neutral (arm not lifted)
a barbell bent over row instead of a seated cable row.
Adding Plyometrics/Sports Specific Exercises:
If we consider most sports, there are elements of fast-paced
movements being performed eg the quick pitching involved in baseball.
Therefore, it makes sense to add plyometric sports-specific exercises to be
fully prepared and shoulder ready for summer sport.
Logically, we add these exercises in later in the preparation
period; specifically, about 4 weeks prior to any event. This is because we want
to build up the strength foundation in the shoulder first.
Examples of shoulder plyometrics include:
arm medicine ball overhead throws
ball wall slams
wall throws in shoulder abduction
For a tailored shoulder programme or if you are preparing to enter back into the sporting season, don’t hesitate to see our friendly team at Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy.