When it comes to the best shoulder exercises that you can use to improve strength, injury resilience, and help come back from injury, dead bugs are NOT usually on people’s radar. However, the dead bug could be one of the very best exercises to accomplish all these goals of improving shoulder function.
Why, of all the exercises we could be using, would I talk so highly of the dead bug? For one, people that actually have pain or discomfort of their shoulders, they are unlikely to be able to move the shoulder very much or take great load upon them. That is why most of what you see on social media for problematic shoulders isn’t very practical. The great majority of shoulder cases couldn’t do 90% of what people say would solve their shoulder issues.
The dead bug provides us an opportunity to work on many of the issues that often cause should dysfunction without asking too much from the joint itself. Core stability is typically a HUGE issue with many shoulder issues. This isn’t really a new concept (although it may be in fitness training) as research dating back 20 plus years in therapy have shown the importance of core stability to athletic function.
This 2000 paper in the Journal of Athletic Training explains, “the proximal segments, the legs and trunk ,accelerate the entire system and sequentially transfer the momentum to the next distal segment.” The distal segment in many cases is the shoulder and you can see the shoulder is really a function of what the lower body and core can do in order to allow force to transfer to the shoulder appropriately.
That is why it can be frustrating to see so many try to attack the shoulder in isolation when they try to strengthen, rehab, or build resiliency in the shoulder. If we don’t integrate the body correctly then the training we do of the shoulder does so little to accomplish the goals that many people want to achieve.
Another reason that I love to use these dead bug drills to improve shoulder function is that we can integrate grip work into the training. Pulling the handles of the Ultimate Sandbag apart or gripping the handle of the kettlebell provides another important and misunderstood concept of shoulder training. As the literature explains, “Researchers have found a strong correlation to grip strength and rotator cuff health, “A strong correlation between grip strength and lateral rotator strength was shown at all positions, suggesting that assessment of grip strength could be used as a rotator cuff monitor of recruitment function.”
Combine this with the fact that these dead bug progressions allow us to also utilize the lats (a big shoulder stabilizer), use diagonal patterns like lifts/chops to enhance core stability, and progress in so many different ways where we don’t have to load the shoulder a lot to enhance its progress in strength and health, why isn’t the dead bug a more popular shoulder exercise?
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When we understand the body, we can create better solutions. That is why I also created my new DVRT Rx Shoulder Program that you can not only check out HERE, but save 30% with code “shoulder” and get our DVRT Shoulder Webinar for FREE! Take an opportunity to use education and see real examples of how we make people better!
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