Shoulder Injury Prevention Exercises For Calisthenics

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Have you ever felt a slight pinch on your shoulders when reaching up to grab something from the top shelf, or perhaps when you move your arms in certain positions? This could be a symptom of injury and most people have encountered it or know someone who encountered shoulder pain.

The shoulder joint is complex and can be very easy to injure because it moves through a wide range of motion. In fact, research suggests that shoulder pain affects 18-26% of adults at any given point in time, which makes it amongst the most common regional pain syndromes. 

This will hinder your progress to build muscle and lose fat, which is why I never forget to practice stretches and exercises when training. Eliminating the risk of shoulder injuries enables you to obtain your optimum physique in the most pain-free way and time-efficient manner. 

Let us look at what are the culprits of a shoulder injury and how you can prevent it.

The Anatomy of The Shoulder 

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint and your rotator cuff consists of muscles and tendons that hold your shoulder in place. It is located in the subacromial space. Your rotator cuff enables you to lift your arms and reach upwards as the arm moves through the range. Also, external rotation, otherwise known as lateral rotation strength is obtained by a properly functioning rotator cuff. 

The rotator cuff is a small muscle that is often underdeveloped because it is unwittingly overlooked, and external rotation weakness leads to a shoulder injury as it is an indication that the rotator cuff is not functioning adequately. 

When this and the surrounding muscles are weak, it can cause shoulder instability during movements, which leads to recurrent pain, and limited ability to move your arm.

How To Prevent Rotator Cuff Injury 

Shoulder Warm Up Exercises

Before you begin your workout, it is important that you practice adequate warm-up to prime up your muscles and increase your range of motion. Here are simple arm and shoulder warm-ups you can do:

  • Rotate your arms and shoulders forward 20 times
  • Rotate your arms and shoulders backward 20 times
  • Front raise your arms back and forth 20 times
  • Arm swing 20 times

Exercises For Shoulder Injury Prevention

This is a list of general shoulder injury prevention exercises. To make sure that this is safe and practical for you, it should be practiced under your doctor’s supervision. Consult your physical therapist or doctor about which exercises will best towards your injury prevention or rehabilitation goals. 

We will be focusing on strength and flexibility to prevent shoulder injuries. Strengthening the muscles that support your shoulder will retain your shoulder joint stable. Stretching the muscles you strengthen is vital for recovering range of motion and preventing injury, and also reducing muscle soreness. 

Shoulder External Rotation

External Rotation 

This exercise will work on the infraspinatus, teres minor, and posterior deltoid. You will need a light resistance band for this, and when the exercise is performed, you should feel a stretch in the upper back and rear shoulder region. 

  1. Loop a resistance band with a stable object that is approximately 3 feet long. 
  2. Stand tall while holding the band with your arms by your side and elbow bent at 90 degrees. 
  3. Slowly rotate your arms outward at around 90 degrees, squeezing your shoulder blades together when you pull your elbow back while keeping your elbows close to your torso. 
  4. Gradually return back to the starting position.
  5. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps on each arm.

External Rotation With Arms Abducted 90 Degrees

This exercise is similar to the previous but this time, your arm will be abducted at 90 degrees. It will work the infraspinatus and the teres minor. You will require a resistance band.

  1. Loop a resistance band to a stable object at around 3 feet long. 
  2. Stand tall and hold the band with your elbows bent at 90 degrees at shoulders height with the arm abducted. 
  3. Slowly raise your hand until it is in line with your head while keeping the elbow in line with your shoulder.
  4. Slowly lower your hand to the starting position. 
  5. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps on each arm.

Internal Rotation 

Internal rotation will target your pectoralis major and the subscapularis. You should feel the tension in your chest and shoulder when performing this movement. 

  1. Loop a resistance band to a stable object at around 3 feet long. 
  2. Hold the band with your elbow bent 90 degrees and close to your torso. 
  3. Slowly bring your forearm across your body.
  4. Gradually return to the starting position
  5. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps on each arm.

Crossover Arm Stretch 

This stretch works on the posterior deltoids, and it will increase the flexibility and range of motion of the shoulder joint. You should feel this stretch on your rear shoulders and middle back. 

  1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Relax your shoulders followed by pulling your left arm across your chest as far as possible while pulling your opposite hand to the right elbow. 
  3. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds followed by repeating on the opposite arm. 

Sleeper Arm Stretch 

The sleeper arm stretch is great for shoulder rotation and pain relief. It can also alleviate tightness and imbalances from prolonged periods of sitting and repetitive motions. This stretch works on the teres minor and infraspinatus. You should feel this stretch behind your shoulder and the outer upper back. 

  1. Lie on your right side with your right arm bent at 90 degrees and elbow in line with your shoulder. You can rest your head on a pillow for comfort. 
  2. Use your left arm to push your right arm down until you feel a stretch in the back of the right shoulder. 
  3. Hold this position for 30 seconds followed by switching sides. 

The Takeaways 

The shoulder is a complex joint as it must provide sufficient stability while keeping full mobility to prevent injury and maximize performance and function. It is exposed to structural changes which can lead to injuries during training, hence why it is important to practice strengthening and mobility exercises. This will help assure muscle balance and a functional recovery. 

It is important to train your rotator cuff muscles as you would with other muscle groups. I understand that it can be unintentionally overlooked if you don’t yet feel any shoulder pain. Don’t let this be a mistake because these rotator cuff exercises will help to alleviate shoulder pain and prevent shoulder injuries. 

I recommend you to practice this routine 2-3 times a week either at the start or at the end of your workout, and of course, like with any other muscle group, make sure that you center your focus on progressing these exercises. 

If you enjoyed reading this article, I recommend you to check out recovery-related topics that I’ve previously written. 


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