The most frequent injuries treated in physical therapy are rotator cuff tears and tendonitis. Outside of therapy, shoulder injuries are even more prevalent and can really hamper success in the gym. The majority of injuries stem from improper mechanics used repetitively over time. Improper mechanics over time lead to pain and dysfunction, and if it not addressed, eventual injury. We have outlined proper shoulder mechanics in great detail in the book Do This, Eat That available both at Amazon.com and the Riverwalk Athletic Club. This book will give you the base needed to start building the proper motor plan for optimal shoulder function.
Once you have learned proper shoulder mechanics you should begin applying them to pressing and pulling movements. If you can properly do this you can continue to make progress without causing injury or pain for the long run. Outside of the gym it is pivotal to be self-aware of proper mechanics and begin to auto-correct your mechanics when performing daily activities in order to reduce the chance of injury.
Once you have become self-aware of proper shoulder mechanics and start to apply them to your daily activities and training sessions, you can then add in specific exercises to build up common weak areas. I have created a brief shoulder and scapular workout that can be used to continue to help build the proper balance of strength, stability, and mobility throughout the shoulder/scapular complex. These exercises will also allow you to focus in and practice proper shoulder and scapular movement patterns. Use this routine as a warm-up, as a bonus workout, or at the end of a session to help build strong shoulders that will stand the test of time.
Band shoulder distraction
Scapular pushups, pullups, dips
Band shoulder dislocates
Band internal/external rotations
• I realize many of you may not know what these exercises are, or how to perform them. It would be nearly impossible to describe how to do them properly in this format so I would advise hiring a qualified personal trainer or using a resource such as the book Do This, Eat That in order to look up how to do these exercises properly.
These exercises will help to build and maintain proper balance and mechanics in order to continue making progress in the gym, and avoid over use injury during your daily life.