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How to Avoid Shoulder Imbalances and Improve Shoulder Flexibility to Avoid Injuries

In all the cultures around the world, broad shoulders and narrow waistline is considered a clear sign of health and vigor. With bigger shoulders you get that V-shaped Torso, a must for an aesthetic male body. Moreover broad shoulders make you appear more confident and capable. This is the reason why a lot of us are interested in building big and strong shoulders.

Shoulders allow us to move our arms in all the directions. Whenever we move an object through our arms, we use our shoulders. Therefore shoulders are used in some way or the other in most of the upper body exercises. As a joint being used so often and being so versatile in their function, shoulder is a very complicated joint and also very vulnerable to injury. Having strong shoulders hence is a must for everyone and not just the athletes.

Presses are the most common exercises used for building strong shoulders. Standing and seated shoulder presses are considered the bread and butter exercises for shoulders. However presses, effective as they maybe in building strong shoulders, may lead to imbalance in your shoulders. This is because they target the front of the shoulder more than the posterior side, thus causing an imbalance in the strength of the shoulders.

Studies have shown that on average for the bodybuilders their

  1. Front of the Shoulders is 5 times bigger than an untrained person
  2. Side of the Shoulders is 3 times bigger than an untrained person
  3. Back of the Shoulders is only 10-20% bigger than an untrained person

Such an imbalance can cause a loss in the mobility of the shoulder joint. For many of you who recently started strength training and packing muscles, might have noticed that your shoulders are no longer as flexible as it used to be. One of the most interesting observations is how many bodybuilders find it really hard to reach out and scratch their back. This happens because after gaining muscles their shoulder joint has lost its flexibility to allow their arms to reach out.

Most of us lose flexibility in our shoulders as we gain mass

So what is the solution for this situation? You can include following two things in your workout to avoid such an imbalance

  1. In addition to presses, you can include lateral raises in your workout. Lateral raises are isolation exercises where you can specifically target side and back of the shoulders. By performing standing lateral raise you can strengthen the side of your shoulders, while with bent over lateral raise you can strengthen the back of your shoulders. Standing lateral raises actually are quite suited for increasing the size of your shoulders. Since your clavicles cannot increase in size, the only way for increasing the width of your shoulders is to develop sides of the shoulder. Since lateral raises target the side of the shoulders, they are well suited for increasing the size of your shoulders. Note this does not mean you should give up on shoulder presses. The bread and butter for shoulders are the shoulder presses, lateral raises in addition to lateral raises will be the approach, which will give the best result.
  1. The back of the shoulders is one of the hardest muscles to target in most of the exercises performed in the gym. This is because other muscle groups such as triceps, trapezoids and the back end up supporting them in the exercises. This actually is the major reason for the imbalance we see in the shoulders of the bodybuilders. One of the best exercises to absolutely isolate the back of the shoulders is to perform shoulder rotation. You can perform this exercise on a cable machine as shown below. Stand on the side of the cable machine and grab hold of the handle. The handle should be kept at your waist level. Pull the handle and rotate your forearm about your elbow. For best isolation, grab a towel and place it right below your armpits and don’t let it fall. Notice there are two types of rotations that can be performed, that is, internal rotation and external rotation. In external rotation you rotate the forearm from inside to outside, while in internal rotation you rotate it from outside to inside

In conclusion we would say that while performing strength training it is of utmost importance for you to keep your joints functioning well, otherwise you will never be able to attain your goals. Shoulders are one of the most important joints in our body and also one of the most fragile. Without good shoulders you can pretty much rule out all the great upper body exercises, hence take good care of your shoulders and make sure that they are healthy.