Shoulder impingement is one of the most common maladies negatively affecting upper body workouts. If you ever have had shoulder pain you know just how debilitating it can be to move your arm over your head during any of the common exercises like an overhead press or even out in front of you in a bench press. In this video, I’m going to show you one exercise that you can do as a warmup for your shoulders that is the greatest shoulder warmup and takes just seconds to do.
We first must start with a little explanation of the type of pain that you may be getting in your shoulders when you train. Often time, muscle imbalances lead to an impingement of the glenohumeral joint with elevation of the arm. The structures inside the shoulder such as the supraspinatus tendon or the bursa can get pinched between the acromion and the head of the humerus.
Often times, the reason behind this can also be attributed to a strength dominance of the delts compared to the rotator cuff. When this occurs, the delts cause an upward pull on the humerus causing it to migrate superiorly when you raise your arm over your head. This is not supposed to happen. Instead, you want the action of the rotator cuff muscles to help centrally locate the head of the humerus inside the glenoid. In other words, keep the ball in the middle of the socket even as the arm is elevated.
When impingement does occur and pinching of the rotator cuff tendon or bursa takes place you most commonly get something called a painful arc. This means that if you stand with your arm at your side and begin raising it, that you don’t immediately feel pain in the first 60 degrees of motion for instance. It is at about that 60 degree mark however that you start to feel pain in the shoulder joint that either continues or even worsens the higher the arm gets.
That is until you reach about 120 degrees of abduction. At this point you suddenly feel that the pain disappears and you are able to continue raising your arm the rest of the way without pain. There is a reason for this. It is at the top of the painful arc that sufficient external rotation of the humerus has occurred to help rotate the structures that were getting pinched outside of the impingement zone and relief is obtained.
Now that doesn’t have to be the case. You can actually strengthen the external rotators of the shoulder and get them to respond sooner in the act of elevation if you do the exercise that I’m showing you here. You want to begin by lifting the dumbbells with a neutral grip and forearm rather than a supinated one. This allows the biceps to do less of the work (which can create tension on the superior labrum and cause pain if this is an additional contributor to your shoulder pain) and shifts instead to the brachioradialis and brachialis.
From here you will see that your humerus undergoes abduction while at the same time externally rotating. This helps to fire up the rotator cuff at an earlier point to help clear the humerus throughout the painful arc and restore pain free elevation of the arm. All you have to do is take about 2/3 of the weight that you would normally use for a side lateral raise and perform 1 to 2 sets of this with good solid, focused contractions at the top.
Try this and I promise you will feel relief. This also works incredibly well with shoulders that tend to pop, snap and crack as you raise them over your head. A few sets of this every day will help to restore balance to your currently imbalanced shoulders and set you down a path of success from here on out.
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