As a Physiotherapist that works with CrossFitters, I see a lot of people who suffer from shoulder pain. Some a periodic niggle, others muscle and tendon tears. This makes sense, almost 30% of CrossFit injuries are shoulder-related.
30% That’s a bit much, don’t ya think?
From my experience working with CrossFitters, many of these injuries, however severe, could have been avoided. That’s why I’ve created my Shoulder Stability Prehab Program.
This Three Phase Program addresses the common areas of weakness that contribute to shoulder instability and ultimately, pain.
It’s all about the pumps baby. This phase includes bicep curls, tricep extensions, single-arm lat pulldowns, and external rotations. These exercises are meant to target some of the underperforming muscles that are required for strong, stable shoulders.
One of the biggest issues I see when people are performing these exercises, is that they don’t feel the correct muscles working. What I mean is that if you’re doing a bicep curl, you should feel your bicep fatigue, it should burn. The same goes for tricep extensions (triceps) and lat pulldowns (lats). The only one that doesn’t fall into this category is the external rotations, they should create general fatigue around the shoulder.
If you’re performing these exercises and you DON’T feel them in the correct areas, lower the weight or limit the range of motion.
If you feel them in all the right spots, use these exercises as a warm-up before your training sessions and work towards increasing the weight when you can.
It’s time for kettlebells! Arguably one of the best tools we have to challenge shoulder stability. This phase includes the kettlebell armbar, racked carries and overhead carries. They may look easy, but it doesn’t take much to make things shake.
The issue I see with people performing these exercises, honestly, is that they don’t use heavy enough weight. You should have to FIGHT to keep the kettlebell in position or from falling. If you’re able to carry on a conversation or walk around smiling while holding a bell overhead, IT’S NOT HEAVY ENOUGH.
Men should strive to perform these exercises with at least a 24kg kettlebell and women should use at least a 16kg. Those weights are on the low end of the spectrum. The heavier the better.
As Big Sean put it “wobbly wobbly wob wobble wobble”, is the name of the game. That means it’s time for dangling things! I love dangling things and this phase is all about taking instability to the next level. By hanging small weight plates (or kettlebells) from bands on both sides of a barbell, you instantly create a significant amount of wobble. In order to press, carry or overhead squat a barbell with dangling weights, you have to CONTROL the wobble.
If you want to truly benefit from these exercises, you have to take it slow. For example, if you press the barbell too quickly, then you won’t allow the instability of the dangling weights to catch up. Slow movement = more instability = more gainz. There is no set protocol on the dangling exercises. Load em up, control the weight and keep going.
For the Turkish Get Up, this is the cream of the crop. To be able to control heavy weight while moving from the ground to standing requires an incredible ability to stabilize your shoulders. It also requires you to have sufficient mobility, big plus. Men, aim for the 32kg kettlebell, women the 24kg. If you can do a TGU in less than 10 seconds, either the weight is too light or you’re missing half the movement.
Shoulder injuries and CrossFit don’t have to be synonymous with one another. You don’t have to accept that you have a shoulder injury because you do CrossFit. You also don’t have to be afraid or avoid certain movements in the WOD because your shoulders are holding you back.
This program is meant to help #EverydayCrossFitters improve their shoulder stability and perform better in the gym. If you struggle with shoulder pain then these exercises are for you!