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Watch: 6 shoulder exercises to improve your posture

Belfast PT and nutritionist Alan Waterman shares a full shoulder workout that can help improve your posture

By Alan Waterman

Training can take a bit of a toll on our bodies as we get older.

Through being over-zealous with lifting weights in our youth and experiencing injury, imbalanced training programmes, and just general wear and tear, we can find some joints beginning to feel a little beat up over time.

The shoulders are no exception.

In fact, many of us will encounter shoulder pain, regardless of whether we're lifting weights or not- 40 hours spent sitting at a desk each week really does us no favours, as we find our posture, and consequently our shoulder health, suffering for it.

Thankfully, there are some exercise tweaks and substitutions we can use to allow us to still perform many of our favourite exercises, but not at the expense of our shoulder health.

Check out 6 of my favourite shoulder-sparing exercises.

1. Landmine press

For many, direct overhead pressing can cause 'impingment' symptoms, as the shoulder joint closes in on itself. Although overhead presses are a great way to target the shoulder musculature, if they are causing pain, you may want to consider the landmine press instead. It may not be the solution to your overhead woes, but may enable you to continue pressing movements pain-free.

2. Neutral-grip DB bench press

An overhand (pronated) grip forces us into an internally rotated position, which can cause havoc for those of us who suffer shoulder pain. By benching with a barbell, with have no choice over this, but by instead switching to dumbbells and taking up a thumbs-up (neutral) grip, our shoulders can remain slightly more externally rotated, which may allow us to bench without pain.

3. Face-pulls

Everyone knows Monday is chest day, right? However, for many, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are chest day too, and all that pressing leads to over development and tightness through the involved muscle groups, again pulling us into a more internally rotated position. By balancing out our pressing work with at least the same amount of pulling work, we can help maintain strengtg balance through those muscle groups; the Face-Pull is a great exercise for helping achieve that.

4. Scapular press-ups

Ever heard of the serratus anterior? Probably not, but it's a muscle which is a lot more important than we realise. A weakened serratus can cause problems with our shoulder blade movement and mobility, so it is essential we work to keep it strong. The scapular press-up is a variation on a traditional press-up which effectively targets the serratus, helping to keep it strong, and benefitting our overall shoulder health.

5. Palms-up band pull-aparts

Just like the face-pulls, band pull-aparts are a great exercise option for helping to strengthen the muscles of the mid and upper back, as well as the rear shoulders and shoulder stabilizers, all of which can remain weak from an imbalanced training programme. By performing this with the palms turned up, we again encourage more shoulder external rotation, which is a much friendlier position for the shoulder to rest in.

6. Reverse crunch

A core exercise for improving shoulder health? Sounds odd, but replacing traditional crunches with reverse crunches really can help. By overdoing crunch work, we can cause our ab muscles to get tight, pulling our ribcage down and screwing our upper back posture, which we already know the shoulders don't like. However, the reverse crunch, more effectively targets the lower fibres of the abdominal muscles, which avoids this effect, but still allows us to target and train our core.

Full shoulder-saver upper body workout:

Landmine press: 3 x 8

Neutral-grip DB bench press: 3 x 10

Face pull: 3 x 10

Scapular press-up: 3 x 12-15

Palms-up band pull-apart: 2/3 x 15-20

Reverse crunch: 3 x 8-15

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