Your shoulders take a beating on a daily basis, especially grapplers, and are usually the hub for many injuries.
Because we often sit and slouch, our muscles and tissues get thrown off balance and end up in a place of compensation. If this balance is not corrected in the body, we end up overusing and fatiguing certain muscles, while exposing weaknesses that eventually lead to strain and injury.
Taking the time to warm up, work on weaknesses and posture, and cool down are very important tools to prevent injury. Before doing activities that require the shoulder girdle, here are three essential exercises to add to your workout (or warm-up) in order to achieve maximum mobility and stability.
SHOULDER EXTENSION STRETCH
This stretch will loosen up the front of the chest helping to correct that rounded posture we often get caught in. Make sure to take a deep breath in as you pull your arms back. On the exhale, squeeze your shoulder blades together to gently complete the stretch. Hold until you feel your tissues and muscles release. Repeat a few times until your shoulders feel loosened up, but be careful not to overstretch.
This move targets the shoulders and stabilizing muscles in the upper body. Be sure to maintain a neutral spine by keeping your glutes tight and bracing your abdominals throughout the exercise. Perform the exercise slowly and try to increase the range of motion each time. Switch directions after 5-10 reps. If you are not familiar with the exercise, start with a lighter weight.
THE KETTLEBELL ARMBAR
One of my favorite exercises. This exercise requires great shoulder stability and focus. If performed correctly, this move can provide a deep stretch to the anterior shoulder and improve mobility through the thoracic spine. Hold the end position for 3-5 seconds and repeat for up to 30-35 seconds on one side.
As with all exercises, you want to make sure you perform them correctly to get the most success. Learn the movement first, start light, and then progress slowly when you have mastered that movement.