Mistakes to Avoid When Training Your Shoulders
For many avid weight lifters, shoulder injuries don’t happen overnight. Countless people have lifted for years, sometimes ignoring minor shoulder pain, and then — pop! — they’re finished. But what they perceive as a sudden injury is actually the result of years of overuse and poor form.
Avoid these common mistakes to keep your shoulders strong and healthy.
Exaggerating the movement
If the instructions say lift the dumbbell “to shoulder height,” don’t lift the weight up to the ceiling, because lifting your arm to this unnatural angle adds undue stress to the joint with little advantage for increasing muscle tone. In other words, the risk of injury from lifting higher outweighs any minimal benefit of getting slightly stronger by increasing the size of the movement.
Arching your back
When you perform shoulder exercises while sitting on a vertical bench, make sure that you only have a slight gap between the small of your back and the backrest. Yes, arching your back gives you more leverage to lift heavier weights, but arching also cheats the muscles that you’re targeting and puts your lower back in a vulnerable position — causing injury.
Rocking back and forth
When you perform shoulder exercises while standing, relax your knees and maintain a tall posture. Many people lock their knees and lean back, a posture that your lower-back muscles don’t appreciate. If you’re moving any body parts other than your arms, you aren’t targeting your shoulder muscles, and you’re using too much weight.
Doing behind-the-neck shoulder exercises
You’re likely to see lifters press a barbell overhead and then lower it behind the neck rather than in front. Some shoulder machines also involve behind-the-neck movements. Stay away from these exercises! They require a severe backward rotation of your arm, placing your shoulder and rotator cuff muscles in a weakened and precarious position.
The movement also compresses the top of your arm bone into your shoulder socket, which tends to grind the bones and place your rotators under a great deal of additional stress. Always keep in mind that the benefit of any exercise should outweigh the risk.