Bullet Proofing Your Shoulders

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Bullet Proofing Your Shoulders

When I entered high school, I had a tough decision. Keep focusing on gymnastics and try to qualify for the 2000 Olympics- or focus my time and energy on baseball. I chose baseball and in my Freshmen year I had the honor of playing for a coach who has been voted the USA High School Baseball Coach of the year three times (ESPN, USA Today, and Diamond Baseball). There are many things he taught me, but one was how to bulletproof my shoulders. For the rest of my high school and college career I never had any problems with my shoulder or elbow and I think that was largely because of the exercises he taught me and his emphasis on how attention to details makes a big difference in the long run.
When you start CrossFitting your shoulders are going to be under more stress than ever before. In your first six months, you have a chance to prepare your shoulders for what you will ask of them in the future. You’ve heard the proverb “The best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago, the next best time is today.” This is so true for strengthening our shoulders! In the Middle East, most of you have only played Football (soccer) and have never used your shoulders for extended periods in athletic endeavors. This means your shoulders are almost surely weak. In CrossFit you are using your shoulders on perhaps 75% of exercises- all the pulling and pushing exercises and even some cardio exercises (jump rope, rowing).


What many of us don’t know is that we have two distinct groups of muscles that make up our shoulders. People can have big and strong shoulders because they have gone to the gym and used machines and free weights. They have strengthened the big muscles of the shoulder (Trapezius, Deltoid, Latissimus Dorsi, Teres Major, Pectoralis major and minor) but oftentimes the 4 rotator cuff muscles are still very weak (Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Supraspinatus, Subscapularis). These small rotator cuff muscles make sure the shoulder “slides and glides.” They keep the shoulder socket healthy and balanced where the humerus bone can move exactly as it should in the socket. CrossFit will quickly strengthen our 6 major shoulder muscles- especially the Deltoid muscle. When the Deltoid gets strong, without a strong set of rotator cuff muscles, it creates a shoulder impingement. These are usually (my guess is 90% of the time) the cause of shoulder problems in beginning CrossFitters.

miliatry press rear19622Shoulder

At CrossFit Crescent, we put together a short 8-minute video that shows the 7 exercises that can bulletproof your shoulders for the months and years ahead. You can go upstairs at our gym and find everything you need for strengthening these rotator cuff muscles. Obviously, when we strengthen muscles we also need to stretch and work on mobility in the joint. You can watch this video by Kelly Starrett on using bands for shoulder mobility. Mobility and strengthened rotator cuffs will give us incredible long-term shoulder health!

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