Properly training your shoulders requires more than building huge traps and delts. Other, equally important stabilizing muscles must be strengthened to improve shoulder performance and maintain health.
Your shoulders’ support structure is comprised of ligaments and muscles, including the rotator cuff muscles, which wrap around the upper arms and keep the shoulder joints together. They allow for the transfer of power and force between the arms and the body, while retaining the highest degree of mobility compared to any other joint. These capabilities make the shoulder invaluable for sports performance, but also place it at risk for injury.
The shoulder often takes the brunt of contact in sports like football and hockey. Injuries can occur from a devastating hit or falling and landing in a position that exposes the shoulder’s weaknesses. Sports that require explosive overhead motions also put the shoulder in a vulnerable position. When the arm is overhead, the muscles and ligaments are more likely to be pinched or impinged. Severe damage can occur with repetitive use, resulting in significant time spent on the DL.
Prevent these common injuries and improve the function of your shoulders by strengthening the muscles that support the joint. Improving shoulder strength and stability results in performance gains through enhancing the energy transfer between your arms and body. For example, a powerful athlete like Andy Roddick uses his stable shoulder to transfer power from his lower body and core to his arm when unleashing 150-mph serves.
A shoulder stability program should include exercises that activate the critical stabilizers that keep the joint secure when absorbing a blow. It should consist of isolation exercises targeting each muscle of the rotator cuff to ensure a balance of strength throughout the joint.