Intro from Carla: I love weight bearing exercises but if you are not careful and do not practice good form injuries can occur. The shoulder is one of those places that often suffers with weight training. Here are a couple tips from Sharon on preventing shoulder injuries during weight-bearing exercise.
Shoulder injuries are common, and can be at best very uncomfortable, and at worst very painful. Taking care of the shoulders in weight-bearing exercises is vital to both building up strength in the upper body and in preventing shoulder injuries. The most common shoulder injuries are to the rotator cuff — the group of four muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint itself. Both strength and flexibility is necessary in the rotator cuff to allow a full range of motion for the shoulders and arms. In weight-bearing exercises, it’s important to engage these muscles and tendons to protect the shoulder joint.
Tips to engage the shoulder muscles
- Press into your hands, as if you are trying to push yourself away from the floor.
- Use your hands — spread your fingers and lightly grip the floor with them.
- Engage your core muscles — this will ensure your shoulders are only taking their fair share of the weight.
If you find weight-bearing exercises like push-ups too strenuous, try the same exercise with your weight leaning into a wall, rather than the floor. Stand about 30cm from a wall and place your hands onto the wall. Use all the tips described above and lean into the wall, so that the tip of your nose touches it, then push yourself away again. Repeat in groups of five. In this exercise, the more you press into the wall with your hands and fingers, the quicker you’ll build up the strength in your shoulders and arms required for a more strenuous weight-bearing exercise like a push-up.
Following weight-bearing exercise with some basic shoulder stretches will help you keep the necessary flexibility in your shoulder joints.
- Sit comfortably. Interlace your fingers and press the palms of your hands away from you, allowing the back of the neck and the upper back to round. Repeat with the fingers interlaced the other way (with the opposite forefinger on top).
- Sit comfortably. Reach your right hand behind your back and take hold of your left arm, or the clothes on the left side of your back. Lean your head away from you right shoulder until you meet some resistance. Just let the head be heavy. To come out, roll the head down towards the centre of your chest. Repeat on the other side.
- Sit comfortably. Interlace your fingers and bring the palms of your hands to the back of your head. Allow just the head to drop forward (the chin towards the chest) and allow the elbows to drop towards one another until you find a stretch. There’s no need to pull down with the hands, instead just let everything be heavy here. To come out, release the pressure of the hands, and then lift the head.
About the Author: Sharon Freeman on Kaliper, Orthopaedics who is one of the leading shoulder surgeons in Sydney.