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At-Home Exercises To Strengthen Your Shoulders And Be Pain Free

Your shoulders are one of two joints in the body that have the ability to move pretty much any way they want (your hips are the other). Healthy shoulder muscles are able to reach behind, above, below, and out in front without any pain. And they’re strong enough to perform <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>full-body exercises</strong></a>, too. Unfortunately, most of us don’t take care of our shoulder muscles. We prioritize arms or chest exercises or sit at the computer for too long. This makes our shoulders tight, painful, and weak. And this is a huge problem for our shoulder health. In this article, we’re breaking down how your shoulder works, why your rotator cuff muscles need to be strong <i>and</i> flexible, and the four best at-home exercises you can do to strengthen, mobilize, and prevent injury for this important upper body joint. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">How Do the Shoulder Muscles Work?</p></h4> Your shoulder joint is one of the largest in your body. Bones like the humerus (upper arm) and clavicle (collarbone) are connected to the joint. A collection of muscles called the rotator cuff sits inside the joint and allows for all of your shoulder range of motion <sup>1</sup>. There are about eight muscles in your shoulder. Your biceps, triceps, latissimus dorsi (lats), trapezius (traps) and pectoral (chest) muscles are a few of them <sup>2</sup>. Your shoulder joint is what’s called a <i>ball and socket</i> joint. This means your shoulder, like your hips (another ball and socket joint), can move several ways. It is important we maintain this flexibility in our shoulder muscles to keep the joint healthy and stay pain-free. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">How Do I Strengthen My Shoulder Muscles?</p></h4> Your shoulder muscles get stronger from resistance training exercises like weightlifting or <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>functional bodyweight exercises</strong></a>. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym to get strong shoulder muscles. You can do shoulder strengthening exercises <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>at home</strong></a>, too. When people think about getting strong, they think of big arms, nice chest muscles, and a flat belly. It’s almost like we have two types of muscle groups: “show muscles” and “go muscles.” Show muscles are the arms, chest, and abs. You know―the ones you show off at the beach and get excited about doing exercises for. Go muscles are your back, shoulder, hips, and leg muscles. These may not be the first muscles you think of at the beach, but it’s important to do exercises that strengthen and stretch your go muscles so you can keep feeling and performing your best. And hey, nice shoulders and legs don’t hurt either. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Why You Need to Stretch Your Shoulders to Be Pain-Free</p></h4> What’s important to understand about strengthening your shoulders is that flexibility is just as, if not more, important. <i>Especially</i> if you want pain-free, mobile shoulders. As a ball and socket joint, your shoulder is designed to move in many different ways. Unfortunately, most of us only use our shoulders one way, which tightens and weakens our rotator cuff muscles. <h5 style="font-size: 1.5rem;">“Long Tight” Muscles</h5> Most of our day-to-day activities involve having our hands out in front of us. We live in the “box” between our pelvis and about eye level: typing, checking our phone, and driving. Over time, this limited and repetitive movement causes our shoulders to slouch forward and increases the risk of injury. In this box, some of our shoulder muscles are overworked while others do nothing. This leads to muscles imbalances as our trap muscles get long and stiff while others are underdeveloped. The shoulders are kind of like <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>the glutes</strong></a>: super important and underdeveloped for most of us! <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">How Can I Strengthen My Shoulders to Prevent Injury?</p></h4> To prevent injury and improve your shoulder health, you should prioritize both strength and flexibility training in your shoulders. It doesn’t matter how many strengthening exercises you do if you don’t have full shoulder mobility. Focus on increasing the strength in your muscles while working through the <i>full range of motion</i> of your shoulders—reaching overhead, behind, and below you. The good news is you don’t need weights to get strong, flexible, and prevent injury. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">4 Best At-Home Exercises for Pain-Free Shoulders</p></h4> Here are the four best exercises you can do in your living room for strong, flexible, and injury-free shoulders. <img style="width:50%; margin-left:25%;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="KNEELING DOLPHIN PUSHUPS"> <h5 style="font-size: 1.5rem;">1. Kneeling Dolphin Push-Ups</h5> A good push-up variation if you can’t do full push-ups, this exercise will improve shoulder mobility and strengthen your shoulders and core. Set up in a low sphinx position with your forearms pressed into the ground. Push back towards your legs, allowing your hips to rise as your body comes into one straight line. The top position is like downward dog with your forearms on the ground. <strong>Exercise Challenge</strong>: Do a superset with one of the exercises from this <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>hamstrings article</strong></a>. A <i>superset</i> means you do ten to twelve repetitions of the kneeling dolphin push-up, then without a break in between, do ten to twelve repetitions of a hamstring exercise (drinking birds, for example). After twenty to twenty-four repetitions, take a break. Do two more sets. <img style="width:50%; margin-left:25%;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="TABLETOPS"> <h5 style="font-size: 1.5rem;">2. Tabletops</h5> Tabletops are another great way to strengthen your shoulders and core while increasing flexibility. This will stretch your shoulders from a different angle, forcing you to open up while stabilizing your elbows, shoulders, and abs. Instead of feeling a stretch in your neck and the top of your shoulders, it will be in your chest, biceps, and front of the shoulders. <strong>Exercise Challenge</strong>: Do a superset with one of the exercises from this <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>glutes article</strong></a>. A <i>superset</i> means you do ten to twelve tabletop repetitions, then without a break in between, do ten to twelve repetitions of a glute exercise (shoulder bridge lifts, for example). After twenty to twenty-four repetitions, take a break. Do two more sets. <img style="width:50%; margin-left:25%;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="KNEELING SLIDE"> <h5 style="font-size: 1.5rem;">3. Kneeling Slide</h5> Kneeling slides are fantastic because they work like a push-up and pull-up combined. When you return from the bottom of the push-up position, your lats, serratus, and core muscles are working instead of your pecs. Keep your elbows tight to the body. This will also help open up the rotator cuff muscles. <strong>Exercise Challenge</strong>: Do a superset with one of the exercises from guide for strengthening your <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>lower back</strong></a>. A <i>superset</i> means you do ten to twelve repetitions of kneeling slides (or as many as you can), then without a break in between, do ten to twelve repetitions of a lower back exercise (reverse crunches, for example). After twenty to twenty-four repetitions, take a break. Do two more sets. <img style="width:50%; margin-left:25%;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="UP DOWN DOG"> <h5 style="font-size: 1.5rem;">4. Downward Dog</h5> Downward dog is a fantastic way to mobilize your shoulders and strengthen your upper body and core. You can hold it in a static position or practice “Up Down Dogs” like Coach Tyler demonstrates above. In downward dog, press your hands through the floor and pull down towards the ground. Again, this will make your core and serratus muscles work hard. Elbows stay locked out the whole time. Push your head through your hands and hold this position to stretch out your traps and upper back and shoulder muscles. Also think about stretching your hamstrings. When they’re stretching, this shuts off your lower back and forces your rotator cuff muscles to stretch and get stronger. <i>Note: In the image above, Coach Tyler is in the downward dog position when his body looks like an upside down “V.” </i> <strong>Exercise Challenge</strong>: Hold downward dog for thirty to sixty seconds or for as long as you can. Rest for one minute, then repeat two more times. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Precautions When Performing These Shoulder Exercises</p></h4> Be careful with these exercises if your shoulders are especially tight or you have pre-existing injuries. You might be surprised by how inflexible you are at first. Start slow with a few repetitions and work your way up! <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Wrapping Up</p></h4> The best shoulder strengthening exercises also mobilize the muscles in your rotator cuff. It doesn’t matter how strong your shoulders are if they have limited range of motion. Remember, strong <i>and</i> flexible—this is the key to strong, pain-free shoulders. The good news is you don’t need fancy weights or a gym membership to keep your shoulders healthy. <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>Warrior Made</strong></a> specializes in awesome, effective at-home workouts you can do in thirty minutes or less. Check out our <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>exercise section</strong></a> and <a target="_blank" href=""><strong>YouTube channel</strong></a> for more workouts. <h5 style="font-size: 1.5rem;">References</h5> 1. <a target="_blank" href="">Picture of the Shoulder</a> 2. <a target="_blank" href="">Muscles</a>

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