Let’s say one day you are given the chance to travel with the one and only Superman! Your job is to assist him with managing crowds, sitting with him during interviews, and if the need arises, help him rescue someone from a burning building. You are so excited to be helping the Man of Steel himself!
On the first day, he doesn’t talk to you and never asks for your help. You figure he’s not used to having help and you brush it off.
The next day, he still doesn’t talk to you and never asks for help. He handles the interviews just fine, but the paparazzi manage to get a pic of him still wearing his Clark Kent glasses and his cover is almost blown.
On the third day, he STILL doesn’t pay much attention to you and the crowds at Time Square closed in on the two of you. You could have called for the NYPD to help clear them out but he told you not to do anything (he didn’t want bad PR). So now you are both trapped for an hour and your feet get trampled two of your toes – not his – are broken. What the heck?!
This doesn’t make any sense to you. Superman has the help he needs right next to him but he’s suffering needlessly and causing you harm because he won’t use the help that’s been given to him.
This analogy explains what your shoulders go through every day. Your shoulders are designed to support you, help you to carry heavy loads, and do various tasks every day. But if you don’t use them, they will actually get hurt!
You have probably heard a million times that slumping at your desk or when standing is bad posture and bad posture is bad for your shoulders.
But worse than that, your bad posture actually damages them. You get a weak and tight chest, and a weak upper back, followed by neck problems, and lower back problems. Eventually, you end up with shoulder pain. Most modern-day shoulder issues are caused by a “crowded” shoulder. There’s a space underneath the acromion process (a bone at the outer edge of your clavicle) where tissues like tendons and sacks of fluid sit and function. If that area gets narrowed or “pinched” by chronic bad posture, you get painful conditions like impingement and rotator cuff issues.
This can all be solved with three simple exercises that you can do pretty much anywhere, any day. Even in your work clothes. No sweat required. Read on to learn about it.
It’s not time-consuming and anyone can do it. In fact, everyone from a college football player to an 80-year-old grandma should do these three things. And they are insanely quick and easy!
Get better posture with No Money!!
Correcting your posture is really simple. Do the “No Money” move. Stand or sit in a chair facing forward. Bend your elbows and hold your arms at 90 degrees with your palms facing up. Pin your elbows to your rib cage and rotate your hands outward to make the “no money” gesture.
Then let your hand drop and notice where your shoulders are. Try ot keep them in this position as often as possible throughout the day – and during workouts. And you can use this trick to do quick posture checks throughout the day. Easy peasy!
We do so much forward work in our everyday activities and in our workouts. But pulling exercises are just as important as pushing. In fact, a good ratio for workouts is 2 “pulls” for every “push.” Pulling strengthens the upper back and back of the shoulders which balances the front of the shoulder.
Unfortunately, pulling exercises are often left out of the gym and workout programs.
When you go to the gym you see plenty of bench presses, press machines, etc. When you go to a workout class, there are plenty of push-ups, planks, and burpees. But not a ton of pulling.
Another issue is that the most popular pulling exercise – the standing row – can be a little harder as it requires the proper form to avoid straining the lower back. Have a trainer teach you how to do it properly and check your form. So I’m going to share a few pulling exercises that are safe for you on your own and with minimal equipment.
Doorway One-Arm Rows
You can do this at work, at home, or at the gym. All you need is a doorframe a pole or a squat rack. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the pole or door frame with one hand. Sit back with your hips, keeping the chest up. Then pull your body back to a standing position using one arm. You’ll need to engage all the muscles in the upper back on that side. Repeat this 10 or more times and repeat on the other side. Do 3 or more sets until you get a good burn.
TRX or “Waterski” Row
This is one of my favorite exercises because it’s beginner friendly but can challenge experienced exercisers and can be more safely done without a trainer. It also takes the lower back out of the equation and really challenges the upper back. The one rule is to keep your shoulders locked down. (Remember the No Money posture!)
Use the TRX straps at the gym or make your own straps at home or on the road using a sheet. Tie a knot at one end and place it on the top of a door and close it.
Place your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and lean back until your arms are fully extended. Lock those shoulders down and pull while keeping your elbows close to your sides. Then control the descent back into the original “waterski” position.
Inverted Row (Table or Barbell)
This one is a bit more challenging, but you can do it anywhere that there’s a sturdy table.
Lay face up under the table with your feet under the table and your head outside, looking at the ceiling. Grab the side of the table a little wider than shoulder width and pull your chest to the underside of the table. Be sure to keep your shoulders locked down and your glutes engaged.
Here’s the last ingredient to the secret sauce. Hanging. Research is mounting that hanging will actually heal already painful shoulders and can prevent surgery and the use of opioids. Here’s how it works:
When you hang from hands, like from a monkey bar, the shoulders are raised up into a full range of motion. The upper arm bone presses on the acromion process and opens up that space making room for the tendons and bursa sacks underneath it. This might hurt a bit at first, but it works. (And of course, consult your doctor or physical therapist before trying this.)
There are many variations of hanging, but keep it simple at first. Just go up to a bar that’s over your head and hang for as long as you can, 5 or 10 seconds. It works best if your feet can still touch the ground so you can use them to bear some of your weight until you get strong enough to do a full bodyweight hang.
Do it as much as you want each day, but at least 3 times. At first, you’ll do a “dead hang” where your shoulders are up by your ears. As you get stronger you can pull your shoulder blades down and do an “active hang”.
After several weeks your grip strength will get stronger and you’ll be able to hang longer. If you have a pinched shoulder, keep reading to find a scaled-back version of this.
Find a doorway and hang from the top, using your fingertips. Use your feet to bear some of your weight. Like I said before, start with a few seconds and go longer as you get stronger.
The bonus of hanging is it’s great for your back as well! It decompresses the spine and just feels great!
So those are the three essential exercises for getting rid of shoulder pain and having Superman Shoulders! Superman would be so proud!
If you’re ready to bulletproof those shoulders and get rid of your pain forever, come on in for a free intro where we’ll assess you and set you on the right path!