by Matthew Mundorf, DC, CF-L1
The shoulder is quite a complex combination of joints. Read further and learn how to bring stability to the region.
What’s up guys? Today I want to talk about the shoulder joint(s). If you are like most people, you probably think the shoulder is one joint. In actuality, the shoulder is comprised of 4 different joints. Today I’m talking about the two most important. One that should be very mobile, and one that should be very stable.
When you think of the shoulder, most people think of the glenohumeral joint. The glenohumeral joint is made by the head of the humerus, and where it meets the glenoid fossa, which is part of your scapula aka shoulder blade. This joint is designed to be very mobile in nature as it allows for motion in multiple different directions.
When I go to different gyms, I see a lot of people trying to gain mobility of this joint by doing things such as the PVC Pass Through. Often it’s part of their “warm-up” and its just what they do prior to working out, as they socialize and mingle with other gym members (disclaimer: I am guilty of this).
Stop doing this! The mobility in your shoulder is LIKELY already sufficient. Instead, it would be a good idea to focus on your shoulder stability. Do this by addressing a different joint. The scapulothoracic joint, where your shoulder blade articulates with your rib cage. Often times this joint is too mobile, is weak or it lacks stability. For example in instances with “scapular winging”. When this happens, it can predispose someone to injury, usually in the form of a soft-tissue injury (muscular, tendinous, or ligamentous).
Here are 4 exercises that I like to help bring some stability to the shoulders.
Pick up the dice
- Spread dice, or another small object to pick up, around a cup.
- Start in a high plank position. Both hands directly under the shoulders, feet are wide for a good base of support.
- If the dice is to the right of the cup, pick it up with your right hand. If it’s to the left of the cup, use your left hand.
- Must return the hand to the ground between each dice picked up, and use the opposite hand when picking up the next dice.
- Repeat this as long as you’d like.
Wax on wax off
- Assume a high plank position like the exercise listed above. This time the hands come inside the width of the shoulders.
- Place a small resistance band (I like Perform Better 9” bands) around both wrists.
- Lift the right hand, make a clockwise circular motion, then return the hand to it’s starting position.
- With the left hand, make a counterclockwise circular motion, returning the hand to it’s starting position.
- Next, the right makes a counter clockwise circle.
- The left makes a clockwise circle.
- Repeat this for as long as you’d like.
- Place either a hand or an elbow on the ground.
- You should start by lying on one side, with either both or one foot contacting
- the ground. (Should you choose to place one foot on the ground, then stack the other on top of the bottom foot)
- From there, you will raise your hips off the ground in to the side plank position.
- The muscles of the shoulder must activate in order to hold this position steady.
- Hold this for 30 seconds, and repeat it for the other shoulder.
Negative med ball push-ups
- This is going to be much like a normal push-up.
- Start with your feet a little wider than you normally would when doing push-ups. I like the feet to be wider than the hips.
- Place a firm ball (pictured is an 8 lb. medicine ball) on the ground under wear your chest would touch when doing normal push-ups.
- From there you will place both hands on the ball as if you were doing a “diamond push-up” aka close grip push-up.
- Start in the “UP” position, descend slowly for a 5 count, then press up quickly. Repeat this until you can no longer do any push-ups.
*** Please be careful as you could injury your wrists, elbows, or shoulders on any of the movements, especially the negative med ball push-ups.
*** Additionally, this is not to be considered medical advice as every individual has different needs. These movements are a good supplement to an existing workout program for individuals that have been cleared for exercise by a medical doctor.