Fitness Friday

Fitness Tip

SGT Thomas Canfield

The importance of Shoulder Mobility

Our shoulder is a complex ball and socket joint comprised of different muscle groups allowing for a multi-plane joint movement. The shoulders most superficial muscle group is comprised of the deltoid complex; the anterior, posterior, and medial portions. Anterior deltoid is most utilized in forward plane movements such as bench press, front deltoid lifts, and military press. Medial deltoid is used most notably in lateral deltoid lifts and any type of shoulder press. Finally, the posterior deltoid is utilized in rear movements such as rear deltoid fly’s, high cable rows, and trap lifts. When proper posture is recognized, the shoulder can properly utilize all three muscle groups in a shoulder or military press. If an individual’s posture is compromised autogenic inhibition is altered and certain aspects of the deltoid may take a stronger role in a lift. In this situation, that muscle will eventually become overused and suffer injury because it is less supported by the entire shoulder.

Secondary muscles labeled as stabilizers in the shoulders are classified as the S.I.T.S. muscles; supraspinatus, infraspinatus, terres minor, and subscapularis. These muscles are NOT meant to take heavy weighted loads in movement. In fact these muscles simply support motions and movement such as adduction, abduction, and external and internal rotation. When the deltoid muscles are out of alignment, stabilizers may have a larger role in the movement due to tired deltoid muscles. If these stabilizers take a larger role in motion they run the risk of being injured. Different types of injuries may include shoulder impingement, acromioclavicular injuries, and arthritis.

Strengthening Exercises

In order to prevent injury, it is important to dynamically warm up the shoulders prior to a workout including chest day. Full movement in range of motion and resistance can assist in properly warming up and strengthening the deltoid and stabilizers. Again, when placing resistance to stabilizer movements it must remain fairly light to prevent injury.

Recommended warm-up routine may be:

Using a resistance band:

-Shoulder press

-Lateral Lifts

-I,T,Y, while remaining Prone

– external and internal rotations

-adduction and abduction of the shoulder

-hand stand holds or overhead press and hold

Link to a shoulder warmup:

Stretching post workout

After working out it is important to stretch the shoulder joint to increase range of motion and to prevent adhesions forming from hard lifting work. Stretches should place the shoulder joint into normal range of motion with slight pressure to bring the joint into full range of motion without causing pain. This stretch should be held for 30 seconds to properly stimulate the Golgi tendon organ and causing a release in the muscle spindles.

Link to a stretching example:



Griffin, L., (2005). Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 3rd Edition. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and American Academy of Pediatrics.


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