How to keep your shoulders healthy


Eric Cressi is the owner and president of Cressi Performance, one of the top sports training institutes in the country. An author, presenter, consultant, and powerlifter, Eric has worked with clients from youth sports to professional and Olympic teams. For more information on Eric, follow him on Twitter and check out his new High Performance Manual, a complete source of power and research-driven air conditioning.

At some point in the past decade, I earned the nickname “Man on the Shoulders.” Maybe it’s because I had shoulder problems at a young age and did my best to learn and write about this common misunderstanding. Or, it may be the result of me working with many professional baseball players, whose careers depend heavily on shoulder health. (Or, it could be that there was nothing special about me that would justify a cooler nickname.)

Regardless, if you want to exercise regularly and keep your shoulders healthy for the long haul, I’m in a good position to give you advice on how to get the job done. With that in mind, here are five tips on how to arm your shoulders.

Challenge the position of the knife on the shoulder with different pressing movements.
Everyone wants to bench press – and that’s perfectly fine; it is one of the best complex exercises you can do. Unfortunately, when the upper back is always locked on a bench, the shoulder blades can not move freely – so they can lose the opportunity to get overhead pain. With this in mind, it is important to complement the bench press variations with other movements where the shoulder blade can move freely.

All pressure variations are a great choice, but you may also want to try landmines. You can do these standing or kneeling. Perform once a week at the top of the day:

Train the rotator cuff.
Exercises with a rotator cuff are like cleaning the gutters; it’s not sexy or fun, but you have to do it or bad things will happen elsewhere. Believe it or not, one study found that 34 percent of people with absolutely no shoulder pain actually have tears with rotator cuffs – and that number is actually 54% of those over 60.

Abnormal magnetic resonance imaging findings on asymptomatic shoulders. Sher, J.S., Uribe, J.W., Posada, A., et al. University of Miami. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 1995 Jan; 77 (1); 10-5! In other words, just because you are not in pain does not mean that there is nothing wrong with it. One can only wait for it to reach a painful symptomatic threshold!

With this in mind, I would encourage you to train the rotator cuff with some external rotation, even if it is only once a week for three sets. Here is one of my favorite exercises (you can use a band instead of a cable). Exercise twice a week on upper body days:


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