Having healthy and pain-free shoulders is the ideal goal. Preventing shoulder pain and injury is the best way to do this! Learn how to prevent shoulder issues through increasing strength and stability as well as releasing muscle tension.
Perhaps you’re lucky and have experienced pain-free shoulders so far. Many, many adults experience shoulder pain at some point in their life. This becomes more likely as you age.
The crazy part is that shoulder injuries often begin way before you actually feel the pain or truly experience the injury. You may feel no shoulder pain and think you don’t have any shoulder issues when in fact you may be on your way to a shoulder injury or rotator-cuff tear.
Shoulder injuries are some of the hardest injuries to deal with. I’ve dealt with my fair share of injuries from my years as an elite ice dancer. I’ve experienced tendonitis in my knees, ankles, and elbows (developed from shoulder issues).
My shoulders have been by far the most difficult to fix, and I didn’t even have a rotator-cuff tear. I’m thankful to have made it out of my professional ice dancing career relatively injury-free compared to many at the top level in ice skating. This was partly due to the fact I did many hours of off-ice conditioning every week in addition to my on-ice training.
Prevention is cure if you’re able to go that route. The rotator cuff is very advanced and can do many movements. Shoulders are used to carry bags, get plates or bowls out of cabinets, lift your child, and to do most daily activities. When damaged, movement and what you can do become very limited.
Help Prevent Shoulder Pain
This post is primarily for those who aren’t experiencing shoulder pain yet and want to stay pain free. It’s also for those who have had shoulder injuries, have worked with a physical therapist and graduated from their own physical therapy, and know what is good for their bodies. When in doubt, always see a physical therapist if you’re experiencing pain. Pain typically originates from somewhere else. For example, if you’re experiencing knee pain, it’s often originating not from your knees but from either or both your hips and ankles.
Inexpensive Home Fitness Strength Equipment
Below I’m going to give you tips and ideas for strengthening your shoulders and especially upper back to help support your shoulders. It’s difficult to strengthen your back without equipment. So, I’ve put together a list of inexpensive equipment you can get and use at home or anywhere.
Most of the equipment and many of the exercises are to help strengthen your upper back to stabilize your shoulders. The dumbbells, kettlebells, and tubing can be used for shoulder or rotator-cuff specific exercises as well such as shoulder press and more.
Just click on each image to learn more about the product!
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links at no cost to you.
Tom got this pull-up bar as a present for me recently! I absolutely love it. As a female, I don’t always enjoy doing regular pull ups. This pull-up bar gives you the option of doing pull ups without leaving the ground at a 45 degree angle like the photo above, regular pull ups, or row pull ups. Basically, any angle you can hold yourself works. My favorite is letting the bar hang completely, then holding on so I’m in a reverse position for the row pull ups. It’s a great way to do rows with minimal equipment.
You can even use it to lightly assist exercises such as single leg squat with your leg in front at a 90 degree angle and train your muscles to do it efficiently.
Note: this pull-up bar does completely attach to the door frame. It’s not removable like some where you can take it out whenever you want. I love the way ours looks on our bedroom door. You can hardly notice it’s there. You can completely close the door and walk under it without adjusting anything.
Tom and I also have this pull-up bar in another door frame of our house. This bar is great because it’s removable so you can take it in and out of your door frame any time you’d like. If you want a pull-up bar that is removable, this is a great option.
Dumbbells are my go-to piece of equipment. They are great for working any part of the body. I particularly like to do bent-over row with dumbbells to help strengthen the back and stabilize the shoulders.
Kettlebells are awesome! They are really great for challenging your body in a different way than traditional dumbbells. Single arm bent-over row with a single leg deadlift is one of my favorites to strengthen the back and stabilize the shoulders with the bonus of lower body work. Make sure you’re able to control and stabilize really well before doing more dynamic movements such as kettlebell swings. These types of kettlebell exercises can put extra stress on your shoulders. They are typically fine if you’re able to control the movement and are injury free.
Tubing is the easiest equipment I’ve found to travel with and use anywhere! You can throw it in a suitcase with it taking up hardly any room, or you could even carry it in your purse/briefcase to use throughout your day. My favorite exercise is to loop the tube over a pull-up bar, sit down and perform lat pulldowns.
This is another variation of the above resistance band but in a set. The thing with tubing is you need different variations in resistance depending on the exercise you’re performing. This kit provides any resistance you’ll need. You can even combine two bands together to create the perfect resistance for you. The door anchor provides the ability to use the band for many more exercises than with just the band. There’s an ankle strap for certain exercises and an exercise chart to give you ideas. There’s even a carrying case to help for travel.
I started using this type of resistance band to strengthen my back and shoulders last year. There are so many options and angles you can work with this band. Plus, you can use it for other body parts, too, and work your legs and more.
Work Out the Tension
I tend to get tons of tension in my upper to middle back (traps and rhombiod muscles). Working out the tension with foam rollers, tennis, balls, and golf balls helps the back feel better and improves posture. When you have better posture, your shoulders will be in better placement, therefore, less stress on your shoulders.
If there is one thing I do each and every day it’s foam rolling. It’s like giving yourself a personal deep-tissue massage. See my post with some information on foam rolling: Injury Prevention for Sports: Cool-Down.
You probably already have some tennis balls lying around somewhere! If you want to get a little deeper into those knots than a foam roller can, tennis balls work great. You can use one or tape two together to use on either side of the spine. Make sure you don’t roll on any bones or directly on the spine. Tennis balls can get in-between the shoulder blades and areas where the foam roller’s surface is just too wide or large.
You may already have these at home! If you’re really daring, you can use a golf ball the same way you would use the tennis ball. It will get deeper and can work areas in more detail. Be careful with the tennis and golf balls, and listen to your body.
Try It Out
You may choose to get all the equipment or one piece of equipment. You may do all the exercises or just one. Find what works best for you! You may find one exercise works great for you now, and another may be better in the future. Your body will change over time, but it will always be your unique body. Remember, if you feel any pain while performing an exercise, see your physician and/or physical therapist.
You may also enjoy my Injury Prevention for Sports Series:
Enjoy discovering what’s best for you and your body! Here’s to healthy and pain-free shoulders.
Photo Credit: lanak / 123RF Stock Photo