fbpx
Vegan Liftz is a community-supported website. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through our links. Learn more.

The Best Compound Shoulder Exercises To Improve Strength

Last updated: May 23, 2022

The shoulder is an extremely complex joint that lets you do many things: scratch your back, move objects, get something off the shelf, and lift things over your head. It is comprised of three different parts; the humerus (top of the arm), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the rotator cuff, which is a combination of muscles and tendons. Shoulders are used every day and become strained, tired, and even injured in many different ways. The adage "an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure" rings true, as strengthening your shoulders can help avoid serious problems such as tears, dislocations, swelling, stiffness, and breaking.

In this article, we'll go over some exercises to avoid, some restorative physiotherapy, and strengthening exercises for many parts of your shoulder.

Slap Tear Exercises To Avoid

A SLAP (superior labrum anterior to posterior) tear occurs when the cartilage is torn inside the shoulder joint. It is estimated that as many as 25% of adults deal with shoulder pain, with SLAP tears representing 4-8% of all shoulder injuries. SLAP tears are caused both by overuse or injuries, often associated with improper gym workouts, athletic contact sports, or operating heavy machinery in improper form. SLAP tears as a chronic injury can recover in 6-12 months with proper therapy and exercise but may need medical supervision or surgery to fully regain a full range of motion. Avoid any exercises that involve heavyweight or rotation, such as squats, deadlifts and fireman pulls.

Shoulder Impingement Physiotherapy Exercises

This is more common in athletes and bodybuilders who perform overhead arm movements consistently, such as overhead press, and results from rotator cuff irritation. Here are some helpful exercises to alleviate pain and strengthen the joint:

Chest Stretch: Standing in an open doorway, place both your forearms on each side of the door frame. If the door frame is not enough, perform one at a time. Push forward with your body gently, you should feel a satisfying stretch in your pecs, and a slight stretch in your shoulder and neck. Hold for 5 seconds and relax. 1 set of 10 reps.

Internal Rotation (resistance band): One end of the resistance band should go on a door handle. Start by standing sideways to the band and then grasping the other end in the opposite hand. Keep your below bent at your side and rotate your shoulder across your body. Careful not to move the elbow, and repeat for 10-15 reps.

Snapping Scapula Exercises

Snapping scapula syndrome is a fairly common condition that is characterized by the popping and grinding of tissue and bones in the scapula (shoulder blade) area when lifting, or sometimes even moving, the arm. Calcium can be a great help in restoring bone function. This can often be caused by genetic malformations, damage due to use and injury, or popping a fluid sac in your shoulder. Due to the severity of this issue, you may only be able to stretch the area, and it is recommended to visit a medical professional or physiotherapist. One common exercise is:

Scapular Push Up: Set up in a plank position and position your hands under your shoulders, making sure your feet are together. Pinch your shoulder blades together and press your chest out. Do not bend your elbows or drop your hips. Keep your core stable. When doing this motion, remember you are not doing a pushup as this could further injure you. Keep your range of motion small when pinching the shoulder blade together. If the activity is too difficult, place your knees on the floor. Do 2 sets of 15 reps.

The deltoid is that round muscle that connects the upper arm and shoulder, making it the primary function of the delt to lift and rotate the arm. The deltoid more specifically connects your collarbone, shoulder, and shoulder blade to your upper arm and neck (anterior, middle, and posterior delt). Deltoid pain can come in a range of severity and is common for weight lifters, swimmers, skiers, and basketball players, as well as for repetitive exercises.

Deltoid Pain Exercises

The deltoid is that round muscle that connects the upper arm and shoulder, making it the primary function of the delt to lift and rotate the arm. The deltoid more specifically connects your collarbone, shoulder, and shoulder blade to your upper arm and neck (anterior, middle, and posterior delt). Deltoid pain can come in a range of severity and is common for weight lifters, swimmers, skiers, and basketball players, as well as for repetitive exercises.

Deltoid Stretch: Begin by standing upright and clasping your hands together behind your back, careful not to apply any pressure. Slowly lift your hands upward, making sure not to lean forward. You should feel a good stretch in the biceps, shoulder, and anterior deltoid area, which is the part that connects the collarbone to the upper arm. Repeat for 10-20 reps.

External Rotation Exercises

If your shoulder feels stiff and moves with difficulty, regardless of a medical condition or just muscle soreness, external rotation exercises help to increase range of motion and flexibility and reduce pain over time.

Lying external rotation: lay on your side and support your head with your hand. Begin by slightly bending your hips and knees and placing your elbow on your side, specifically around the crease of your hips. Your hand should touch your stomach. Lift your hand and stop before the forearm is perpendicular to the floor. Lower slowly to the starting position. Increase difficulty by placing a dumbbell in the lifting hand, with 2 sets of 10 reps.

Seated external rotation: Sit down on the floor or a mat and bend one of your legs so that it is pointed outwards. Place your elbow on the inside of the bent knee. Optional grab a dumbbell and place it in your hand. Slowly lift your hand (or the weight) and stop before your forearm makes a 90-degree angle with the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.

FAQs

Can shoulder problems cause headaches?

Since the shoulder and the neck share the same muscle, shoulder problems can often cause headaches, more specifically tension headaches.

Can my neck cause shoulder pain?

Yes, since the shoulder and neck share the same muscle, this can happen. If a nerve root becomes irritated in the neck, that pain can radiate along the path to the shoulder.

Will working out help my shoulder pain?

Yes and no. Performing strenuous workouts may exacerbate the problem. However, many stretches and some exercises do help shoulder pain.


About the author