An article by exercise physiologist, Jennifer Smallridge
Did you know that your shoulder is the most moveable joint in your body? It is known as a ball and socket joint, because the large head of the humerus (arm bone) sits in a small socket, which is part of the scapula (shoulder blade). Much of the stability of the shoulder comes from the surrounding ligaments and muscles, so strength in this area is key!
It is important to look after this joint throughout our lives, as it is the gateway to good arm and hand function. So how can we best serve our shoulder joints?
1. Watch your posture
Because the shoulder originates from the shoulder blade, and the shoulder blade sits on the ribcage, and the ribcage originates from the spine… then actually, the way we hold our posture makes a big impact on our shoulder mobility and strength. Try it for yourself: when you are slouched, and try to lift your arm out to the side, it can feel restricted. When you sit or stand up tall, and then lift your arm out to the side, it should be able to go nice and high.
Exercise recommendation: Low rows with a resistance band, making sure you are standing nice and tall. Complete 10 times, rest and repeat.
2. Keep it moving
All joints love to move through their range of motion, and the shoulder is no different! Whether you move it functionally, such as hanging out the washing or playing with a pet, or through exercise, such as swimming, tennis or mobility exercises, regular movement is great for joint health. It can also help to prevent a painful condition known as frozen shoulder. Be mindful that the shoulder doesn’t like sharp, sudden or excessive unfamiliar movements, so if you have something coming up such as moving house or playing in a tennis tournament, it is important to prepare your shoulders every day for several weeks in the lead up.
Exercise recommendation: A broomstick can be a handy item at home to gently move the shoulder joint. Try these shoulder side swings, 10 times to each side. Only push as far as feels comfortable.
3. Strengthen the small shoulder muscles
A lot of the shoulder function depends on four small muscles known collectively as the rotator cuff. If they aren’t used often, they are prone to atrophy (getting smaller) and even tendinopathy (inflammation of the tendon) and tears. If you do have a known and specific shoulder injury, it is best to consult a health professional for exercises that are right for your body. If you are looking for prevention or maintenance, try the following.
Exercise recommendation: Anchor a resistance band around a stable surface (eg: door handle, pillar, leg of the dining table) and complete internal and external rotation, 10 of each on each arm.