It goes without saying that there’s a clear need to warm-up the muscles before targeting them to be severely broken down and depleted. The purpose of the warm-up is to prepare the muscles for what is to follow, to prime them for what will be a very uncomfortable time.
By warming up thoroughly we’re not only making the muscles a lot more elastic with an increased blood-flow but we’re also preparing our joints too, as our bodies will natural begin to secrete additional synovial fluid which acts as a sort of lubricant – very important for their respective welfare.
Too many injuries occur by ‘going too heavy too quick’ mostly because we want to be at our freshest for our heavier lifts – to a degree this is only natural, but nevertheless it still represents ‘a bad training habit.’ Ironically though after we’ve thoroughly prepared ourselves for exercise we are anything up to 20% stronger so it’s certainly worth our time to make sure we do this correctly.
However as mentioned, this pretty much goes without saying – what does go without saying though is the extra attention that we must put into our rotator cuffs before commencing a brutal shoulder workout.
Why is this then? Why do the shoulders require this special attention?
It’s simply because of the nature of the joint. Unlike many of your ‘hinge’ joints that only flex one way our shoulders are essentially ‘ball in socket’ joints (up of four joints and five linked bone groups) allowing for the greatest range of motion in our entire bodies.
Please spend 5 minutes and consider the link below:
There is certainly ‘a lot going on’ in the anatomy of the shoulder and it’s all in quite a confined space, I mean look at the hips for example – by definition another ‘ball in socket’ joint but much larger and less crowded.
The shoulders are by far and away the most used muscles of the body also, and contract directly and/or underpin pretty much every single exercise of the upper body and more than a few of the lower body. It’s because of this ‘involvement’ that you’ll rarely come across a serious trainer with over 10 years experience who hasn’t suffered problems with their shoulders, this is quite a concern as 10 years in the bigger context of our ‘training lives’ is no time at all. Elite bodybuilders also rarely escape these dangers we face, the most common surgery among IFBB pro’s has always been shoulder operations.
Let’s face it, if we’re injured we are of no help to ourselves, all progress will inevitably grind to a halt and this will also have a potentially profound effect on our mindset. We’ll no doubt become miserable and frustrated!
So, warm-up your rotator cuffs before training shoulders!
The key to preventing shoulder injuries lays with the conditioning of the much smaller rotator cuff muscles and their respective tendons. Infact the tendons receive very little oxygen and nutrients from your blood supply which is often the case why they take so long to recover from injury – increasing your frustration.
You simply must bear in mind that as a result of the shoulders having the largest range of motion as a consequence they are most vulnerable to injury, especially as they are underpinned by the smaller, much lesser known rotator cuff muscles and tendons. ‘You’re only as strong as your weakest link’ is an old cliche but regarding the development of your shoulders it happens to hit the nail perfectly on the head.
Prevention is absolutely key and below is a fantastic video of a comprehensive list of 7 different exercise that will help condition the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff. As you can see cables can also be used instead of the resistance bands and in some cases small dumbbells too.
Remember these muscles are very small by nature so the weight and intensity you use will have to reflect this accordingly. You’ll be able to protect yourself nicely by alternating a combination of just 2-3 of these movements for 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions – you’ll be glad you did!