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The shoulder joint is one that has the capability to move in many different directions. This fact makes it very prone to injury. There are specific weight lifting exercises designed to strengthen the shoulder. However, if the exercises are not performed with “good form,” injury can occur.
A common injury seen from performing exercises improperly is referred to as anterior instability.
Examples of exercises that may cause an anterior instability are those that put the shoulder joint in the “at risk position.” This position is when the elbow is bent up to ear level while the hand is slightly above the head. Exercises that require the shoulder to be in this risky position include the:
- Latissimus pull-down performed behind the neck
- Shoulder overhead press performed behind the neck
- Wide-grip bench press
- Pectoralis fly
There are alternatives to exercising in the “at risk position.” The latissimus dorsi pull-down to the chest can be substituted to train the latissimus dorsi. The overhead press should be done with the hands and elbows in front of the shoulder. One way to accomplish this is to use the overhead press machine while sitting backwards on the seat. This will insure that your hands and elbows are out in front of your shoulders, avoiding the “at risk position.” Placing your hands 1.5 times your shoulder width will keep your shoulder safe during the bench press exercise. Using the pectoralis fly machine is a good way to protect your shoulder from over stretching during this exercise. The machine can be set to limit the range of motion, putting less stress on the shoulder.
The next time you are in the gym, you may want to consider substituting these simple and effective ways to avoid shoulder injury. Happy lifting!