Safer Shoulder Training

Safe and Productive Workouts for Shoulders in Recuperation

Well-sculpted shoulders are a major element in overall upper body development for any bodybuilder to perform well as a competitor. If you take a careful look at the overall upper body development of the finalists on a championship stage, you will always notice that no one has mediocre deltoid development.

The deltoids contribute structurally to both the width of the shoulders and visually enhance almost every pose of the bodybuilder during a contest. Returning to a targeted training routine for the shoulder area while not incurring any new risk is especially critical for any bodybuilder dealing with injury to this area. The deltoids are one muscle group that requires three types of movement for a complete growth: pressing, pulling, and leverage exercises.

Training Around Shoulder Area Injury

Whatever the extent of an injury to any of the shoulder muscles, there are some general guidelines you can follow supporting recovery while also avoiding more injury:

Correct lifting technique – A sound lifting technique is key to recovery, usually it is best achieved by having some direct supervision with a personal trainer or partner.

Lifting optimum amounts of weight – Lifting beyond a safe amount of weight increases the possibility of tissue and structure failure resulting from either poor conditioning of the soft-tissue structures or neurological fatigue, which both contribute to poor technique.

Avoiding overtraining – Be aware that muscles need adequate time to recover from training in order to hypertrophy. If the same body part is trained too frequently, it can leave insufficient time to recover properly, and thus increase inflammation and scar tissue in the area.

Insufficient rest or recuperation = If you do not rest adequately after a training session, it makes it difficult to train heavily at the next session. Also, keep the outside stress factors in your life to a minimum.

Overly repetitive training of the same muscles on the same equipment = Try using a variety of free weights and machines to keep the muscles continually stimulated.

Previously injured areas not healed correctly – One of the main causes of weight training dysfunction is a previous injury that did not heal properly, and is exposed by overloading the joint or muscle.

Rehabilitation, Retraining and Modification

One example of a successful national amateur competitor overcoming major shoulder injury is South Carolina state champion Marion Benton. A serious car accident in 1996 left him first entirely confined to a bed, then in a wheelchair, and finally just using a cane until he could walk again. Two years later, he was able to step onstage again at his first national event, the Junior Nationals, and a year after that won his state title at the NPC South Carolina event. While rehabilitation can include the gradual return to certain familiar core or shaping exercises, there may be some injuries after which some movements need to be avoided completely. “I don’t do 90 degree shoulder presses,” Marion points out about his own modified training. “In fact, I don’t do any exercise as far as heavy weight — and “heavy” being a relative term– I’m just there to work on my body effectively but safely.”

He also continues to be mindful of the safe training techniques and knowledge acquired during his own journey back to complete mobility, strength, and shape when it comes to his recommendations to clients as a personal trainer: “I’m a big believer in kinesiology — muscle form and function. Basically if I see something similar to what I went through, I know how to tell them okay, we’re going to do this exercise to help avoid this injury that you had, but we’re also going to try and strengthen that area as well.” There are points regarding form and performance he often makes to clients that are safety-minded while also aimed at improved results: for instance, “trying to lift too heavy, or bouncing the weight, or feeling they need to rush through the workout or the set — you’ve got to slow it down so that the muscle can feel it.” Aside from that, some exercises require extra care if you continue using them; as Marion points out, with side lateral raises, for instance, “I find I have to continuously tell my clients to go and do the extra set and don’t bend your elbows too much, but don’t straighten them out too much either. You want to put a weight in their hands that probably is easier than what they’ve normally been doing so that they can get the form down correctly.”

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