3 Ways to Save YOUR Shoulders
The shoulder is very unique in that it is the most mobile join in the human body is used in nearly every human sporting action. And due to its large range of motion (ROM), the shoulder can end up in some highly stressful, unstable, injury-prone positions.
Looking specifically at the sport of lacrosse, the shoulder has many duties: shooting, checking, cradling, etc. Avoiding shoulder injury is key to a successful athletic career in lacrosse—so here are 3 weight room tricks to save your shoulders keep them as functional as possible.
Don’t Overload the Front of the Shoulder
While the bench press is a great tool for developing upper body strength, it can be over used due to its prevalence in weight room culture. Left to their own devices, young athletes (mostly males) will probably bench press every day.
The question “How much ya bench?” is usually a way to try and compare strength between one athlete and another. However, overloading the frequency of horizontal pressing movements can lead to muscular imbalances that negatively affect the function of the shoulder.
Add this to poor posture mechanics, and you have a recipe for developing shoulder impingement.
This doesn’t mean you should fear the bench press or avoid it all together—but we must understand that proper athletic function requires muscular balance, and it is more important to have strength and function rather than JUST strength. Be aware of your posture when sitting or standing and make the necessary corrections to avoid ugly shoulder positions.
In the weight room, balance your pressing movements with pulling movements, and implement specific external rotation exercises to help maintain balanced shoulder musculature.
Develop Scapular Strength
The scapulae (or shoulder blades) are inherently important when talking about shoulder function. They are the foundation for both mobility and stability in dynamic shoulder actions.
Maintaining good scapular ROM and developing scapular strength in stable positions is key for optimal performance and injury prevention. Lacrosse shooting places a huge demand on having strength in scapular control. When your scapular muscles are weak or inhibited, it reminiscent of trying to shoot a cannon on a canoe.
Pull-ups, Reverse flys, and bent rows are all great tools to strengthen the muscles that control the scapulae. Crossover Symmetry is also a phenomenal product that specializes in all things shoulder related.
When it comes to the weight room, it’s all comes down to the programming of your strength training.
Be sure to utilize a program that promotes both performance and injury prevention methods.
Roll Out + Stretch Your Lats
Tight lats can limit your overhead ROM. Helping reduce some of that tightness can free up your scapulae, improving shoulder mobility and allowing for better overhead positions.
Increasing your overhead ROM can help reduce the amount of anterior stress on the deltoids and help the shoulder function optimally. Many strength coaches avoid overhead movements, but this diminishes the amount of strength stimulus that can be introduced the shoulder and leave it as a weak link in the kinetic chain.
Keeping the lats supple can help to keep shoulder ROM high, preventing the movement compensations that can over-stress either the low back or the front of the shoulder.
Foam rolling and static stretching both have solid benefits for maintaining good positions. If you haven’t rolled out your lats before, be ready for a rude awakening (you might want to bite down on some leather).
For seasoned lat rollers, a stronger and more precise pressure may be needed. Luckily, you all have a lacrosse ball on hand at all times—and it’s one of the best tools for intensive mobility work.
Mobilizing your lats both with the arm overhead and in an externally rotated position (like a front rack for the front squat) can help keep your shoulders working optimally.[mks_separator style=”solid” height=”4″]
Move well first, then move well under load. Maintaining shoulder health and function is necessary to keep you playing at the top of your game. Proper planning of your weight training and focusing on a balanced approach to strength can go a long way in keeping you at the top of your game.