ARE OVERHEAD EXERCISES BAD FOR YOUR SHOULDERS?

One common misconception spread out in the health and fitness world is that exercise overhead is ‘bad’ for your shoulders. Whilst performing overhead movements can be challenging for some, this is undoubtably safe for anyone with healthy shoulders and, provided progressive loading principals are implemented, overhead work will improve shoulder health and function.





RELATIONSHIP OF THE ROTATOR CUFF TO BALL AND SOCKET JOINT

Overhead work is an excellent way to challenge the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. They act to keep the ‘ball’ of the ball and socket joint moving efficiently with the ‘socket’, as forces act to displace or separate this joint. This muscular support is particularly important in the shoulder due to the incredibly small structural contact area.


What the shoulder lacks in structural support, it makes up for with incredible mobility and the ability to go overhead, unlike the hip ‘ball and socket joint’, which is much more stable, yet greatly limited in mobility. This mobility advantage leaves the shoulder more vulnerable to pain and dislocation, particularly in positions which put the joint capsule in compromising positions. For example overhead exercises make it heavily reliant on stability and support from the rotator cuff muscles.





BENEFITS OF OVERHEAD EXERCISES DONE CORRECTLY

Training throughout your overhead range, and within a comfortable and safe load, greatly improve the ability of the rotator cuff muscle to perform its role. The benefit of overhead exercises done correctly are:

  1. reduced chance of injury;

  2. improved ability to perform daily tasks; and

  3. reduced potential pain associated with shoulder motion.

The rotator cuff muscles are crucial to perform overhead movements and are active during shoulder movement in all planes to keep our shoulder stable throughout the day. Overhead movements help keep the shoulder cuff muscles strong.


OVERHEAD EXERCISES

Avoiding strengthening overhead movements is counterintuitive, especially if you consider the daily tasks we are exposed to that require lifting overhead, such as hanging out the washing, reaching things on the top shelf and even getting undressed. The easiest and safest way to strengthen the shoulder in overhead planes is, quite simply, to perform overhead exercises. These exercises include:

  1. Shoulder press

  2. Arnold press

  3. Pull ups

  4. Cable rows

To avoid injury it is important to ensure these exercises are performed with a load that is comfortable and does not cause any pain. You should progress this load slowly over time as you become stronger and better able to tolerate these forces.





SHOULDER PAIN REHABILITATION

People who experience shoulder pain when going overhead often have some form of pathology or heightened pain sensitivity within the shoulder. An effective rehabilitation program is the best way to address this issue to return functional overhead range for daily living. If you experience shoulder pain w recommend making an appointment with one of our Accredited Exercise Physiologists, who can create an exercise plan to safely restore your shoulders to good health and comfortable living. Call us on 5456 1599 and speak to our friendly staff today!



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