Shoulder Health

What Contributes to Shoulder Health

Shoulder health is mostly dictated by four things:

  1. The mobility of the neck
  2. The mobility of the thoracic spine
  3. The function and stability of the scapulae
  4. The muscles of the rotator cuff

The shoulder joint itself is a fifth potential problem, but you can see that it really only represents a small percentage of the likely causes of your shoulder issues.

So, if you want healthy shoulders, your first step is to make sure your upper back and neck are properly working.

Key points:

  • Start with a light kettlebell, men no more than 16kg and women 12kg.
  • Begin like you would for a kettlebell get-up by rolling to the side to grasp the bell before returning back to a lying position on the ground with the bell at arm’s length overhead.
  • If you are holding the bell in your right hand, extend your left arm so it forms a straight line with your left leg, pointing back behind you. I tell my clients the goal here is to rotate over and try to touch their chest and hips to the floor on the other side.
  • You’ll find you get a great stretch in the pecs, delts, and lats, as well as all the muscles responsible for extension and rotation of the upper back.

Once you’ve been practicing the armbar for a bit, and your shoulders are moving better, you’ll want to find some friendly exercises for both horizontal and vertical pressing.

How to Do the Seesaw Press

When it comes to pressing for healthy shoulders, nothing beats kettlebells. They’re just extremely easy on the shoulders.

That said, single kettlebell presses are a great tool for upset shoulders. Where a barbell locks you in place and gives you nowhere to find some extra space, the single bell gives you wiggle room underneath it where you can usually find a comfortable position. But nothing grows muscle and strength faster than heavier weights. This is why the strongest guys usually gained their strength with barbells. So, what is the solution?

Between the big load (but restricted position) of the barbell and the flexibility (but low load) of the single bell lies training with double bells. But double bells act much like a bar and you can find yourself restricted if your shoulders are problematic.

And that’s where the seesaw press comes in. It’s basically a double kettlebell drill performed one side at a time. The double bells place more stress on the body thanks to the higher load and the seesaw action saves the shoulders thanks to being able to find that wiggle room.

Shoulder Health Comes from Smart Shoulder Training

Just because you’ve been lifting weights for a long time (or sitting down for even longer) doesn’t mean your shoulders have to be sore all the time. If you take the time to get them moving again and pick some smart exercises, you’ll find you’ll be able to keep training your shoulders for a long time to come.