While we all want to be big, strong, and fast, most of us forget that in order to be an athlete, we have to be durable as well. There’s no point in trying to do cool stuff (or continue to do cool stuff) if you’re hurt all the time.
One of the ways we can limit our chance of injury and increase our durability is by programming stabilizer strength, primarily hip and shoulder mobility exercises, into our training. And in return, our performance will increase.
The sports performance industry has taught us that most problems will stem from either the shoulder or the knee. Therefor we will focus our attention on stabilizer strength in two key areas:
1. The gluteus medius – This muscle in the hip joint is responsible for maintaining proper biomechanical function of the lower body during walking and running. It keeps the hip, knee, and ankle in line, and thus prevents knee ligament tears. As you can see in the photo below, weakness of the right gluteus medius will cause the left hip to drop when standing on the right limb.
2. The rotator cuff – Many arm and shoulder movements, especially overhead movements, are made possible by the collective actions of four small muscles in the rotator cuff group and structure of the shoulder joint.
As for the exercises, these should be done using controlled movements and light weights. Program 1-2 shoulder and hip durability exercises into your daily training session, either at the end of your main exercises or perhaps during your warm up and cool down.
Internal Rotator, External: Rotator, and Scapular Stability exercises
Using a stretch cord or cable, hold your arm so your bicep is parallel to the ground and your elbow is bent at a 90-degree angle. Pull your hand forward until your forearm is parallel with your bicep, making sure not to move your elbow. You can also do this with a dumbbell, resting your elbow on a bent knee and rotating your forearm up and down at a 90-degree angle.
This exercise promotes stability in the scapular region. These muscles promote postural alignment and aid in shoulder stability. Lie face down on an exercise ball. Holding a barbell with both hands, raise it until your arms are outstretched in front of you. Remember to keep your back straight.
Let your arms hang straight down. Row the weights to the sides of your torso until your upper arms are in line with your body (you should finish with a 90-degree bend in your elbows). Now rotate your forearms until the weights are in line with your head. Slowly return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Modifications for those with shoulder problems
|Bench Press||Limit depth of descent of bar and arm with a rolled towel on the sternum. Keep arms below shoulder height.|
|Military Press||Use dumbbells, keep arms in scapular plane. Limit descent of weight, keeping weights at ear level (90° elbow bend).|
|Latissimus pull-down||Keep grip within shoulder width with arms in the scapular plane. Pull the bar down toward the chest.|
|Squat with low bar placement||Perform front swuats to avoid placing the shoulders in stressful position.|
|Rowing||Limit shoulder extension. Do not let the elbow pass the back of the rib cage. Do not hyperextend the humerus (shoulder).|
|Lateral dumbbell raises||Avoid the 'empty can' position by keeping thumbs up and arms slightly in front of the body in the scapular plane.|
|Supine triceps extensions||Perform standing tricep push-downs. Keep sternum up and lower tips of scapula (inferior angles) posteriorly tilted (down and in against the rib cage).|