As an athlete, your shoulder is one of your most often used joints. It suffers the brunt of contact from tackles, body checks and simply falling to the ground.
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed how improving mobility in your mid-back (thoracic spine) can alleviate many shoulder problems. We also presented a few corrective exercises designed to improve mobility in the mid-back. This article will focus more on preventative measures by addressing shoulder stability.
The shoulder is arguably the most complex joint in the human body. It consists of three bones—the humerus (upper arm), clavicle (collarbone) and scapula (shoulder blade); nearly 20 muscles; and a web of ligaments and other connective tissue. The shoulder's complex architecture permits a great deal of mobility; however, the tradeoff is a lack of stability and support, leading to a higher risk of injury.
Fortunately, shoulder stability can be improved by strengthening the supporting muscles that act on the scapula, including the serrated anterior and lower trapezius. Strengthening these muscles improves stability in the shoulder blades, allowing them to maintain a natural, neutral position. This permits the rotator cuff muscles to move freely without restriction, reducing the risk of damaging impingement. You may also see improvements in upper-body strength and pitching velocity.
The exercises below will help you reap the benefits of shoulder stability. Perform them once or twice a week during your upper-body workouts.
Scapular Floor Slide
Tennis Ball I, Y, T Series
Perform in circuit fashion.
Sets/Reps: 2×5-8 each exercise
Med Ball Wall Push-Up
Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS, is the head strength and conditioning coach at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa. He has authored numerous articles on a wide variety of topics, including injury prevention, nutrition and improving athletic performance.