Prehab/Rehab for the Shoulder

The shoulder joint is probably the second only to the knee in terms of athletic injuries.

It is certainly problematic for martial artists, our main clientèle. We have many “older” athletes training with us who suffer a legacy of a bench press obsessed teen years.

For many of us the issues are simply overuse. Many time our pectorals are simply overused, overtrained or simply over tight. This then leads to the shoulders rounding forwards, the scapula winging out and the counter muscles in the upper back becoming weak and essentially lazy.
Sometimes the problem is the upper traps being over active which switches of the lower traps which are partly responsible for stabilising the scapula.

And then there’s the more severe injuries that we see. In the Judo and BJJ the guys get bent and twisted into positions that are designed to injure. If these locks (submissions) are applied a little to hard, too fast or too often and if you don’t tap out in time you run the gauntlet of injury. After all these locks were originally designed, not for sport, but for disabling a person intent on causing harm.

Omoplata - all sorts of nasty if you don't tap in time

Omoplata - all sorts of nasty if you don't tap in time

So what do we do?

Not training is simply not an option.

The first thing is obviously dropping in on Dan, our resident sports therapy, acupuncturist and Muay Thai exponent.

After that, we implement some rehabilitation drills. The exact drills will depend on your individual injury, the ones selected in this presentation are big bang drills, they hit the most common problems head on.

Starting out with YTL positions. You’ll see I’m doing these free standing, but you may lie on a bench.
Next we take out a band and repeat the same positions but with added resistance. It is important to move with control, so don’t use too heavy a band. I find a pause at the end of the movement really helps.
With the unloaded drills go to fatigue with each one. With the band you can play around a little, heavier bands with low reps for strengthening the rotator cuff and stabilising the shoulder, or a lighter band for higher reps for flushing the joint.
The last section is simple band pulls, to the front and behind the head. These are fantastic and I recommend them to everyone. If you work in an office keep a band in your top drawer and do these at intervals through the day.

With these I like to go at pace for reps. Vary the angle at which you pull, when you find on that is a little harder than the others, stick with it. For me personally I start at eye level and pull down to the chest.

Regardless of which drill your working, always ensure that the shoulder blades (scapula) and pulled back and down, the spine is long and the chest elevated. This should be monitored and checked on each and every rep. If the shoulders aren’t set, there’s no point in completing the rep.

Have a look at the video, sorry about the quality there must have been some dodgy setting on the camera, but you can see the each exercise.

I have a history of shoulder issues going back, I believe, to an injury in my teens. These are my go to drills and have also helped many of my guys keep pushing forwards. Do them regularly and you may never experience the debilitating pain, if you’re already damaged relax all your pressing and concentrate on these instead.
For all else, there’s Dan.
You’ll get him on 086 046 4641 or Email:

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