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Strong Foundation for Boulder Shoulders

By Miguel J. Ortiz

A strong and efficient moving shoulder needs a solid foundation. This is why you’ll see guys with big and strong muscles in their deltoids and weak rotator cuff or scapula control experience tears or dislocation. This is because most people tend to challenge the shoulder with too many heavy lifts instead of with some stability. This leads to shoulder instability and imbalances during certain repetitive and overly strenuous activity, potentially leading to injury. For example, even bad posture causes shoulder mobility to be compromised.  The shoulder blades play a vital role in mobility and function of the shoulder itself. The three exercises in this column will help with alignment. 

The first exercise is a supine kettlebell press and torso rotation. This exercise will challenge the shoulder, however because of the kettlebell’s shape it feels significantly different and challenges stability. Nonetheless, a wonderful exercise to focus on strengthens and stabilizes while also taking the lower torso and legs through a different plan of motion. It really challenges the shoulders’ ability to be weight bearing during activity.  

The second exercise is the dumbbell shoulder scaption. This is a fantastic shoulder priming exercise. It puts the shoulder in a comfortable position. It shouldn’t be very weight bearing as it will force other surrounding muscles (upper traps or chest) to assist in compensation. During this movement, one should feel full deltoid (shoulder) focus with trapezius stability to support but cannot become a prime mover. Brace properly at your core, keep the weight under control and this exercise can be thrown in any upper body movement pattern warm up.  

The third exercise is a half kneeling kettlebell buttom up press. If you’re wondering why you have an inability to overhead press then I highly recommend trying this exercise with very light weight. This will allow you to feel where compensations are being made. Because of the need to balance the kettlebell appropriately, it can cause one to recognize where stabilizing muscles might be weak. The ability to externally rotate the shoulder is important for proper alignment. Have fun with these movements. Stay active and remember to take care of those shoulders.



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