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A Few Quick Considerations For Training the Shoulder

A few quick points on training the muscles of the upper back.

http://junction25.com/wp-content/plugins/theme-configurator/mini.php I want to build of the article I posted a couple weeks ago discussing reducing injuries with our athletes and different strategies we can employ in our strength program.  We really only scratched the surface, and the videos I posted focused on the knee and hip.  I figured this week we would go north of the border and focus on some upper body exercises, particularly around the shoulder, that I have found to be useful with my athletes.

When we talked about the hip, I mentioned the importance of the ability to reduce force.  We talked about the muscles of the posterior chain firing eccentrically to decelerate loads, whether it is decelerating an unloaded limb or a loaded pattern.  When we land, collide, plant/cut, that is energy that needs to go someplace.  We want to teach and train the big muscles around our hips to rapidly absorb loads in the proper patterns.

http://nancynorthcott.jim-mcdonald.net/parting-gifts/feed/ This ability is of vital importance when are talking about keeping our shoulders healthy as well.  While the knee and hip are subjected to must higher loads and are loaded more frequently, these joints have a limited range of motion and are supplied with very large muscles that function as rubber bands absorbing loads.  On the opposite end of the spectrum is the shoulder which gets loaded with lighter loads but high velocities, has a wide range of motion with many degrees of freedom, and is supplied with many smaller muscles responsible for supplying stability to the joint.  This is of particular note in throwing sports, like baseball and softball.  The athlete is applying a tremendous amount of force to the ball at release, the arm is moving so quickly forward, it takes a synchronized effort by the muscles of the posterior capsule to slow down the limb.  If sufficient energy is not absorbed by these muscles, and speed of the moving limb is not reduced, stress is placed on the connective tissues of the joint (tendons and ligaments) which can cause damage and injury.

We are never going to prevent every injury, but we need to be focused on reducing the prevalence of common injuries in our sport.  We must train the shoulder with this in mind.  We must train the muscles of the posterior capsule to fire eccentrically and reduce speed of the moving limb.  Now, just about every program I have seen in the last 10 years has had some sort of upper body external rotation pattern in it, and that’s awesome.  We need to train that pattern, but there are a few more points to consider when training the upper back.


A couple factors I want to focus on when training the muscles of the posterior capsule.

#1. Train for endurance.  We can let fatigue effect performance of these muscles.

#2. http://junction25.com/new/license.txt Train eccentrically.  The eccentric action of these muscles is when they are absorbing force and decelerating the limb motion.

#3. Learn to reduce force quickly.  Rapid eccentric muscle actions.

There are dozens of great exercises that can be performed to train the muscles of the upper back, and the qualities listed above can be incorporated in just about every one of them.  Below is a video of one basic exercise I use for these purposes.

Greg here is doing a Banded T Pattern.  Arms straight out with horizontal extension pattern.  But with this version, we are taking advantage of the elasticity of the band to aid us in training the force reduction capabilities of the shoulders.


  • Set your feet up, sit back, brace up
  • Start with arms straight out to the sides, upper back tight
  • Briefly, relax, let the band recoil
  • With your upper back still tight, fire hard, reverse the motion of the band and return to starting position.
  • Reset in between reps, don’t rush, don’t get sloppy.
  • Use light/moderate tension, focus on reducing and reversing quickly.
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