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Save Your Shoulder Ultimate Sandbag Exercises

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator DVRT Restoration & Pelvic Control)

Far too many times we only address a problem when it actually becomes a problem. I see it all the time in clinical settings, people only address their movement dysfunction, muscles imbalances, or fitness when it is too late….they get hurt!

They think that I am going to fix then and while I can help, my REAL job is to teach them how to use their own body in smarter and stronger ways. A great example is one of the biggest issues I see which is “bad shoulders”. Whether that is torn rotator cuffs, labrum, or just “achy” shoulders.

My mother actually fell to this when she recently had a complete shoulder replacement. I was not happy about her doing it after all she hadn’t exhausted her options in teaching her body to be healthier. Why did she go down such a tough road?

Like many people, pain scares us, it is overwhelming, disheartening, and obviously negatively impacts our life. Unfortunately, the way of helping a lot of these issues isn’t focusing just on the area that bothers us, but understanding how the body is connected and why areas like the shoulder become such a potential problem.

I am going to spare you a super detailed and boring anatomy breakdown. As Strength Coach, Mike Boyle, has said, “too many people learn dead person anatomy.” What does that mean? We look at how structures and muscles in the body function in isolation and not in motion and life.

The shoulder is a rather interesting joint because it is unique in its structure that allows tons of movement, but with that comes with a potential to become easily injured if not supported by the appropriate structures of the body.

Diagrams like those above (from Thomas Myers “Anatomy Trains) shows how our body is connected. We have over 600 muscles in the body, so you would think it wouldn’t make sense to isolate our training to a few muscles even when a specific area hurts.

One of the ways I help people get better fast now is by teaching connections through some of our Ultimate Sandbag exercises. Why and how??!!!

Most people miss the subtle techniques we use in our Ultimate Sandbag exercises to not just lift a “sandbag” but to integrate the RIGHT muscles into performing a movement.

One of those is the use of our “ISO Pull”. It is one of those movements that look like you are literally doing nothing, but in reality, you are doing SOOO much! The namesake refers to isometrically pulling the Ultimate Sandbag.

sandbag exercises

DVRT Master, Raymond Lee, created a great diagram showing what we are trying to accomplish in an ISO Pull. Not trying to lift up or lose body position. 

The whole point is to create tension and to connect some specific chains like our lats/core/ and glutes. It is also to connect our obliques, upper, and lower body too! Great, but what does this have to do with our shoulders?

As I look at patients now, so many times I see the shoulder typically being a outcome of these types of chains not working right. Due to the fact the shoulder has so much movement to it, we need to teach the rest of the body how to create stability and a strong platform for the shoulder to move safely from. After all, if you look at what people are doing WHEN they hurt their shoulders you can find dysfunction in these areas of the body.

The Ultimate Sandbag offers us a unique feel in ISO Pulls because moving from having slack to no slack in the handles makes ALL the difference in the world, so trying to use other fitness tools just doesn’t end up working nearly as well. That’s why we always tough using the RIGHT tool for the right job!

Here is the great thing about ISO pulls, they allow us to take good exercises and make them great through our Ultimate Sandbag exercises with an ISO Pull. A great example is any type of plank exercise. While most would think planks are just for the core, if done with the right intent they are powerful in building connection in the chains and strength from head to toe.

It is using the weight in our Ultimate Sandbag exercises in a very specific and deliberate way with how we engage the ground that can transform the strength and health of your shoulders in record time! If you are thoughtful with what you do in your training it is amazing the results you can achieve!

Love information like this? Check out our DVRT Restoration Program HERE

dvrt restoration