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Shoulder Pain? Skip the Bench Press

The bench press is a great way to build strength and power. The problem is, even when done correctly a serious injury is possible and some in some cases likely. Read below to find out why.

The shoulder is one of two ball and socket joints in your body (your hip being the other). This means that the joint is capable of going through 360 degrees of motion (think of a golf ball sitting on a golf tee, that’s your shoulder.) If you can picture that analogy, you can see how the shoulder is an inherently unstable joint.

What does all this have to do with the bench press? Theoretically, If you have balanced, symmetrical shoulders you are less likely to have a serious injury. This does not include the majority, however. If you look around the room right now you will likely see many people slumped over their phones, shoulders and head forward. This rounded shoulder posture unfortunately represents many of us to some degree. With the shoulders pulled forward there is insufficient room for the rotator cuff muscles to pass under the acromion, leading to an impingment, or possible tear. Bio-mechanically, the barbell bench press fails from the get go. In a barbell bench press your shoulders are fixed in one plane (due to the bar), this means that your body cannot even compensate to avoid impingement. That pain you feel in your shoulder during the movement, don’t ignore it!

If you love to bench here are a few recommendations that will help you avoid injury, and actually get stronger!

  • Get adjusted! majority of us lack extension in our back, this motion is necessary to avoid shoulder impingement.
    Try starting out with some light, high repetition pectoral fly’s. This will allow for a more dynamic warm-up, stretching and activating the muscles.
    Stretch your pecs regularly
    Strengthen your back using exercises like the seated row.
    Avoid barbell shrugs

If you are experiencing shoulder pain don’t wait, call or schedule online now: (781) 460-0939

Keep Moving.

3 Gym Exercises to Avoid if You Have Shoulder Pain

This weeks blog post is inspired by a question I get frequently. “What exercises should I avoid for my shoulder?”Shoulder injuries are extremely prevalent in an athletic population. I would bet everyone knows someone who deals with chronic shoulder pain. Often times, the exercises we are doing can aggravate that condition making it worse, and more likely to undergo a more serious injury such as a tear.

What makes shoulder injuries so common? First off, the shoulder and the hip joint are two of the most mobile joints in your body, allowing for all ranges of motion. This also means that they can be quite unstable in many people. Much of this instability comes from muscle imbalances from poor, or improper posture. The forward drawn, rounded back posture wreaks havoc on your shoulders. The space needed for the rotator cuff muscles to pass through the subacromial space becomes too small, leading to friction, tendonitis, and eventually a tear. Whats more, the rounded shoulders locks down the joints in your neck and back. Since the scapula sits on the thoracic cage there is a direct correlation. With no extension present in you thoracic spine it is impossible for you to raise your arm above your head impingement free. Certain gym exercises can exacerbate this problem making it more likely for you to be seriously injured.

Avoid these 3 exercises and increase the health and longevity of your shoulders:

1.) Flat Barbell Bench Press: Many people with shoulder injuries find that they have more pain when doing chest press than shoulder press. Barbell bench press is an unatural movement and for those with tight, immobile shoulders can lead to a serious injury.

2.) Smith Machine Shoulder Press: Since the bar is set on a fixed path it leaves no variability for changes in movement which will cause potential compression of the shoulder tendons.

3.) Barbell Shrugs: Many people have developed rounded shoulders due to lifestyle as discussed above. carrying any amount of weight in front of your body is only going to further contribute to compression leading to injury.

We have helped many people recover from shoulder injuries. If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder don’t wait, call or schedule online today: (781) 460-0939

Keep Moving.

 

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com

Fix Your Posture- Part 3

If you have not been following a long I have been discussing the beginning stages of what some may consider as an epidemic; “postural syndrome.” So far we have addressed two very important groups of muscles that are necessary for proper postural alignment.  If you missed these posts simply click on the links to catch up (click here for Part 1, Part 2). It is important to not that these changes however do not just affect the head and neck but rather the entire spine. Moving down now to the mid-back we will begin to discuss the Rhomboids.

As discussed previously, many of us develop these postural changes due to our daily lifestyles. It is important to continue to stretch and strengthen these muscles, as many of our daily habits are fighting against proper posture; remain patient! In the image to the left we see the relative change in weight of the head due to the “slumped” posture. This position will pull he shoulders forward neurologically inhibiting the Rhomboid’s. The rhomboids are composed of a major and a minor. They are responsible for scapular retraction (pinching the shoulder blades together) and rotation of the scapula (the opposite of the picture to the left.) The rhomboids are very important for scapulothoracic rhythm ( raising your arm above your head without impingement) so Cross-Fitter’s tune in! Many people will develop rotator cuff issues due to inactivity of these muscles. Pay attention to how you are sitting currently, you will probably notice that your shoulders are pulled forward. This position means that the rhomboids are not currently active. The issue with this is over-time many of us will adapt this posture no matter what the position, seated or standing, walking, running, working-out etc. This is a recipe for disaster for anyone who is actively into working out. In fact, many of you probably do not even know how to properly contract your rhomboids. With over activity of the upper trapezius and levator scapulae the rhomboids often forget how to work properly so it is important to include rhomboid work into your routine on a weekly basis even after you have began to notice improvements in your posture.

Want to learn how to fix your posture? Click Here.

 

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com

shoulder Impingement Fix for Over-head Athletes

Having a practice in a gym, I see many athletes from traditional sports such as football and baseball players, and also Cross-Fit, Bodybuilding, and Powerlifting athletes. One common denominator in many of these athletes is shoulder problems; particularly when striving for that lock out above head (which is a big part of Cross-Fit and Olympic type lifting.)

The problem is not the motion itself, it is achievable and pain-free in those with healthy shoulders. In reality however, most people’s shoulders are not as “healthy” as they think and will eventually be injured unless some intervention is made. Scapulohumeral and scapulothoracic rhythm refers to the ability of all of the muscles of the shoulder complex to work together in sync during over-head movements. When this is all in sync, no shoulder problems are usually noted. However, In todays society majority of people have some underlyeing shoulder issues that prevent this from occurring.

I addressed shoulder biomechanics before, if you missed that post click here.  In order for “healthy” shoulder abduction to occur the shoulder blade must retract and rotate upwards allowing for a clear space for the tendons to pass under the acromion. In order  for this to occur the rhomboids and mid to lower trapezius needs to be firing appropriately. It also happens that these are two of the more common problems areas for muscle activation in most people. We need to neurologically turn these on!

How do we do this? Step number one is to have your thoracic mobility checked by a chiropractor as this is directly related to scapulothoracic rhythm. We can then look at a few activation exercises.

Shoulders are a naturally unstable joint so it is all about prevention!

Then, Give these exercises a try and enjoy a healthier shoulder!

1.) Standing Bent Row’s from a low pully- An easy modification to the traditional seated row is to stand instead of sitting. Find a low pulley, attach the traditional pull-down bar,  knees bent, core tight and focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together. You will feel this in your rhomboids and your mid to lower lats/traps if performed correctly. You can also easily switch it up by changing grips, handles etc.

2.) Standing modified pull-downs- Using a traditional pull-down station, stand about a foot behind the seat in a split stance. Using the traditional lat pull-down bar aim to pull your shoulder blades down and back.

3.) Face-Pulls with a Rope Attachment- Again using a traditional lat pull-down station or a high cable pulley, attach the rope, assume a split stance position and aim to pull the rope toward eye level, separating the two handles while contracting your back by pinching your shoulder blades together (down and back back.)

 

Keep Moving.

 

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com