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Let's Talk Shoulder Pain

One of the most common areas that trainees injure is the shoulder. With a bit of knowledge and a few simple tips, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of ever having shoulder issues again.

Let's start this way. Right now, whereever you are, stand up and reach toward the ceiling as high as you can. Stretch and hold that position for 20 to 30 seconds.
Seriously, do it. This post is going nowhere.

Welcome back,
Now, don't get mad, but that simple drill wasn't the actual test.
Presumably, you've been sitting in front of your computer for who knows how long, and that little exercise you just performed essentially "reset" your spine and helped counteract the flexed position that's been destroying your back for the past few hours.

"We live in a very flexion-based society," said Mark Young, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of "And more often than not, with few exceptions, anything we can do to help promote more extension -- particularly in the midback region -- not only bodes well for shoulder health but for our overall posture as well."

With that said, stand up again. This time, though, purposely round your shoulders forward. Now try to lift your arms up above your head by bringing your arms straight out in front of you.
Tough, right?

Now do the opposite. Stand tall, chest out, shoulder blades back and depressed. Imagine you're trying to put your shoulder blades into your back pockets. Again, try to lift your arms above your head.
This time it should have been infinitely easier. The reason for that is simple. You reduced your kyphotic, or rounded, upper-back posture, which placed your shoulder blades in a more advantageous position, allowing them to move more easily and optimally.

While standing tall and reaching toward the ceiling is helpful, two other exercises can help as well.

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Quadruped Extension Rotation

Kneel on all fours -- knees directly beneath your hips, hands directly in line with your shoulders, and chin tucked so your neck makes a straight line with your spine.

Place your right hand behind your head.
Keeping your left arm completely straight and making sure there is absolutely no movement coming from the lower back, rotate the elbow of your right arm toward the left knee.
From there, extend back toward the starting position, "opening up" the right side by driving the same elbow toward the ceiling and again making sure that all movement comes from the midback.
Do the same with the left hand and elbow.
Perform two or three sets of eight to 10 repetitions per side.

Bench Thoracic Spine Extension Mobilizations

Kneel on the floor with a pad beneath your knees and your elbows on a bench. From there, simply rock back so that your butt moves toward the lower part of your legs while your midback simultaneously sinks into the stretch. Hold for a 2- to 3-second count, then return to the starting position.
Perform two or three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.

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