• A Shoulder Exercise You Should Do…and It May Surprise You!

    June 06, 2018 | By Tony Yong

    Keeping your shoulders healthy can be a challenge. As we age, we can find ourselves trying to better understand how to keep aches and pains at bay.

    We’ve been enjoying writing about keeping healthy shoulders for a while. We recently put together a quiz to help you gauge your shoulder health which you can check out here.

    Plus we’ve put together some other articles here and here on how to reduce shoulder pain along with some great exercises and stretches.

    How Often Are You Moving Your Arms Overhead?

    Let me ask you a question. How often do you move your arms overhead? For many of us, outside of putting away some dishes in a top cupboard, we may not be doing it that often. So many of the things we do on a daily basis keep our shoulders at our side; driving our car, eating, cooking, typing, etc.

    This wouldn’t be a problem in of itself, but our bodies need to move. And not just move through a small range of motion, but through the full range of motion of the joint. Given that the shoulders are the most moveable joint in the body, we need to focus on incorporating more movement.

    Welcome to Overhead Lifting

    Lifting overhead, challenges our rotator cuff and engages our shoulder blade muscles, specifically our serrates anterior (read more about this important muscle in our blog post here).

    The shoulder press is the most common overhead lifting exercise and there are many ways to modify the lift if need be. You can use a variety of implements; anything from dumbbells, barbell, to a kettle ball or a medicine ball. When getting started, use something you already have and is easily accessible to do on a regular basis.

    If you haven’t lifted overhead, you can find it quite a challenge. One way to modify the lift is by taking a couple of small weights and sliding it up the wall (make sure to put a sock around each weight so it doesn’t scratch your wall!).

    If you have a stiff mid-back, you might find it challenging to lift overhead. You can modify it by sitting on an incline and doing an overhead press.

    What to Watch For

    Avoid Shoulder Pain

    Avoid shoulder pain when doing the exercise. You’ll likely fatigue rather quickly, which should improve with some practice.

    Avoid Poking Your Chin Forward

    Another common mistake when lifting overhead is poking the chin forward when doing the movement. Focus on keeping your chin tucked in slightly. This will help to keep your neck in a more neutral position.

    Avoid Overarching Your Low Back

    Sometimes when your mid-back is stiff, you’ll find yourself arching your low back more to compensate for a stiff mid-back.

    A very effective and easy way to bring quick relief to a stiff back is foam rolling. You’ll want to check out our article on how to use a foam roller here.

    What’s Next?

    I hope that this article has encouraged you to lift overhead a little more every day. Plus with very little equipment, you can begin moving your shoulders through full range without any fancy equipment.

    We have a free education seminar focused on the shoulder coming up in a couple of weeks. To learn more and to register, check out our shoulder seminar announcement here.

    If you find lifting overhead a challenge or painful, I’d recommend you come see one of our physiotherapists for a thorough evaluation of your shoulders. We have 6 clinics located throughout Edmonton & Sherwood Park including Riverbend, Meadowlark, Belvedere, Namao, Sherwood Park or our newest clinic in West Henday.