The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body. It has the ability to flex, extend, rotate and move across and away from the body. The scapula, more commonly known as the shoulder blade, has the ability to protract, retract, rotate (up and down), abduct (separate), adduct (squeeze together), elevate and depress. It is safe to say; that there is a huge variety of movements that it needs to cope with on a daily basis.
The large range-of-motion that this joint can accomplish allows athletes to throw a ball or swing a tennis racquet, making the shoulder prominent in the majority of sports. Its support structure relies primarily on a balance of muscular control and connective tissue, ensuring that weight training and strengthening of the supporting muscles is crucial when preparing for athletic performance.
The shoulder’s ability to move in so many directions does unfortunately leave it particularly vulnerable to injury. Athletes who take part in sports or exercise which require plenty of overhead movement like tennis, netball or javelin can often overload the muscles and tendons leading to pain; contact sports and awkward landings can also result in dislocations and other traumatic injuries.
To reduce this risk of injury then, it is important to follow individual training programmes which prepare the shoulder for the forces it is going to be exposed to during sport.
Shoulder training should focus on progressively increasing weights with compound movements such as overhead press, whilst also working muscles in isolation (side laterals, rear delt flyes/face pulls, shoulder rotations). It is also advisable for athletes to train and strengthen movements which mirror the ones they are performing in their sport as this will enable them to maximise their full potential.
All-inclusive, specific shoulder strength training is crucial to the improvement of an athletes’ sport performance. However, the shoulder hardly ever works in combination and combining this with a powerful core and a strong lower body will ultimately lead to improved performance in sport.
If you would like to work on your shoulder strength or enhancing your performance, why not book a session with Steve our Performance Coach.