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Shoulder Exercises That Make You Better!

sandbag training

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator of DVRT Restoration & DVRT Shoulder Course)

I can speak from personal as well as professional experience. Most shoulder exercises people suggest to get shoulders moving better are just bad, no like REALLY bad! So many people want to slam the lack of success they experience in physical therapy and to be honest, I get it, there is still a lot of misinformation on how to use the RIGHT shoulder exercises to make people actually better.

Step 1: It Isn’t Just Your Shoulder

My athletic career ended because I tore my shoulders up so badly I couldn’t compete anymore. That is heart breaking for me to say even to this day, because I was on track for the Atlanta Olympics! The good thing is that now I know where I went so wrong and I can help others.

Like most people I thought the issue was JUST my shoulders. So many blog posts, articles, and even physical therapy seminars that I go to are still just solely focused on the shoulder. However, what Josh opened up my eyes to with DVRT is that it is rarely JUST an issue with the shoulder.

That is because the shoulder has to work in conjunction with the rest of the chains of the body to really be strong, stable, and mobile. Diagrams like the one below shows how connected our body really is and not focusing on the whole leaves us often frustrated and no better off with the shoulder exercises we are using.

sandbag exercisesSo, what do we need to pay real attention to when it comes to the shoulders? There are really 4 additional areas….hips, core, feet, and hands. If there are issues at any of these four points then we aren’t really doing smarter shoulder exercises.

Step 2: Most Miss the Core

Look at most articles about the shoulder and they don’t even have a discussion on the core. They will go into great detail about the anatomy of the shoulder complex, but almost nothing about the core. Why is this such a mistake and keeps us from developing great shoulder exercises? As renowned scientist, Dr. Stuart McGill explains;

“Consider the pectoralis major muscle – it attaches the rib cage at its proximal end, crosses the shoulder joint, and attaches to the humerus of the upper arm at its distal end. When muscles contract they try to shorten. Consider the specific action here – the arm flexes around the shoulder joint moving the arm from muscle shortening at the distal end. But the same shortening also bends the rib cage towards the arm at the proximal end of the muscle. Thus simply using the pec muscle would not result in a fast nor forceful punch. Now stiffen the proximal end of pec muscle attachment – meaning stiffen the core and ribcage so it can’t move. Now, 100% of pec muscle shortening is directed to action at its distal end producing fast and forceful motion in the arm. In the same way a stiffened core locks down the proximal ends of the hip muscles producing faster leg motion.”

How do we accomplish this with DVRT exercises? We can start connecting the core, shoulders, and hips through foundational movements like our DVRT hip bridges.

You will quickly notice that we load the body differently, because we aren’t so much worried about building a “pump” (although good luck NOT feeling it in these versions) but thinking about how the shoulders, core, and glutes work together in life.

We can then start to load a bit more while keeping these connections through our bird dog progressions.

Eventually building to more dynamic core, shoulder, and glute exercises like in our lift/chop series.

Step 3: Grip and Pushing Down! 

It is amazing the “magic” tricks we can achieve with people’s shoulders by teaching them these two important ideas of grip and feet. We know that grip is related to rotator cuff health, but HOW we create the grip is super important. Feet are how we turn on our glutes and half of how we stabilize our core (grip is the other!). So, when people see DVRT drills like our Half Kneeling Arc Presses they see a press, but they miss the MUCH bigger picture like DVRT master, Cory Cripe describes.

Making REAL change to people’s health, movement, and strength isn’t as overwhelming or frustrating as many THINK it has to be. With an understanding fo functional movement we can create exercises and programs that truly make a difference!

Want to learn more about how DVRT is giving coaches the edge in helping clients be more healthier, stronger, and more successful? Don’t miss our upcoming programs HERE