Let’s get right to it, shall we?
I want to focus on helping you get rid of shoulder pain. Far too many people suffer from it and there is honestly no reason to continue to live with it.
I can’t tell you how many times I see someone getting up from doing a bench press and rubbing their shoulder. That’s an instant hint that there is something going on – that’s about to get much worse – in the shoulder. But shoulder exercises and rotator cuff exercises are not just for those that do bench-pressing movements.
Spend your day hunched over a computer? Carry your child around the mall or at the park? Tend to carry your purse or laptop on one shoulder consistently? Sleep on your shoulders?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then this is especially for you.
Our shoulders take a beating day in and day out. In our society we live our life in a forward posture all too often. This constant forward posture can lead to all sorts of problems, from the obvious shoulder pain or discomfort, to neck pain, and yes, believe it or not, even lower back pain.
Everything is connected!
If you spend your day in poor posture, no matter what the reason, it’s only a matter of time before your body starts giving you signals that something is wrong. Like most people, you’ll probably solve the problem by first avoiding the movements or activities that give you pain or discomfort. But that is only a short-term fix – kind of like turning up the volume on the radio when you hear a rattling noise coming from your car. And as we all know, turning up the radio won’t fix the rattle. Likewise, avoiding certain movements or activities won’t make the problem in your shoulders go away, either.
It’s an alignment issue, most likely. All of that hunching over the computer, sleeping on your shoulders – it all leads to creating a misalignment in your shoulders. And, like your car tires, a misalignment is only going to wear your shoulder joint out sooner. But, of course, not before it gives you a great deal of pain in the process.
While there is a library of exercises you can do to improve shoulder function and eliminate pain, let me share with you one valuable movement – the Breast Stroke. This exercise will help you to re-align your shoulders to decrease and/or eliminate pain created by a misaligned shoulder. While it can be done on a flat bench, I like to have my clients perform these on a Swiss Ball in order to get as much out of the movement as they can. Using the Swiss Ball will force you to activate your core (think tensing your abdominal muscles), so you’ll get a bit of core training in while getting your shoulder back in alignment.
Always remember, when performing these movements make sure to keep your shoulders and ears as far apart as possible. The goal is to put your shoulders back in alignment, under your ears. So during the exercise, be sure to reach for your ankles as you proceed backwards in each of the movements.
THE EXERCISE: BREAST STROKE
Note: Start off with 1-2 sets of 7-12 reps
- Bend your arms during the movement
- Bring your shoulders up towards your ears when reaching forward
- Arch your lower back while performing this movement (tighten your stomach)
- Perform the movement slowly, about 4-5 seconds to complete each rep
- Keep your knees slightly bent to avoid arching your lower back
- Keep your eyes focused on the floor directly below to avoid neck irritation