Shoulder Strengthening for Longevity

by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

In the last article written in June,, the crossed pattern for posture and move, impingement problems of the shoulder, and ultimately causing shoulder pain and breakdown. Thus, correction of movement impairments should be addressed prior to having pain.

Pain or decreased mobility is usually a sign of irritation of some sort and is usually the catalyst for seeing a doctor for treatment. Many times anti-inflammatories are then prescribed. The problem with this is that the cause of the irritation is not addressed so further damage can occur if corrections are not recognized.

First and foremost, there are four joints that comprise the shoulder complex. The shoulder blade (scapula) is the wing that must act appropriately in order for the shoulder itself (glenohumeral joint) to be aligned for efficient and effective motion. If the muscles of the scapulae do not fire when appropriate, the angle of the other joints will be malaligned and the muscles will be working at a disadvantage.

When malalignment is present and one uses their shoulder, some muscle will have to work harder than normal. These muscles can develop tendonitis. The bursa of the joint can become inflamed and the abnormal pull on the bones can develop arthritis. Keeping this in mind, be proactive and not reactive to ensure that the shoulders can continue full functioning through one’s lifetime.

So how does one properly strengthen the shoulder? In the gym, many people work the biceps, triceps, and deltoids because when those muscles are tone the arm looks good. These areas can be strengthened but more importantly, strengthen the shoulder blades muscles first to assist in proper alignment. If very weak, the middle trapezius and rhomboids can strengthen by putting them in a shortened isometric position. These muscles will help to pull the shoulder blades toward the backside and improve scapula positioning.

These muscles should be strengthened first with the shoulder in less than a 90 degree position so as not to tax the rotator cuff yet. Also, strengthen the upper and lower traps so that they can work synergistically and to prepare the arm for any overhead activities.

Once these muscles are working better, then closed chain exercises can help to fire the muscles in proper patterns in scapula. Then, strengthen the rotator cuff muscles below 90 but with the scapula positioned so that there will be not abnormal irritation to the muscles or tendons.

Finally, as the muscles are firing better, perform pattern movements to kick in the scapula muscles and rotator cuff muscles together for movement coordination that mimic more natural use of the entire shoulder complex.

For further information please call Paula at Fitness Together in downtown Naples 239.263.9348.

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