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Big Bench Bad Shoulders


 Big Bench Bad Shoulders.

One of the most effective and popular exercises in the gym is the Bench Press. But having a big Bench often comes with a price.

While you increase the poundage on the bigger pectoral (chest) muscles the smaller shoulder stabilizers (rotator cuff) are usually unable to deal with the speed at which the Pecs develop strength.

As the Pecs get bigger and stronger they become tighter and gradually start to pull the shoulders closer together to the front, but on the opposing side the neglected posterior muscle get weakened and over stretched. This is a very common posture for young inexperienced bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts.

The shoulder joint is the most unstable joint in the body, it is a ball a socket joint (Shoulder = Socket and the Upper Arm = Ball) because the socket is very shallow the ball sit Onto the socket rather than Into it like the hip joint. It is also the joint with the greatest range of motion in the body. This makes it a very unstable joint, to make up for the instability it has many muscle and ligaments that act on it creating strength and mobility. The rotator cuff muscles are the main stabilizers of the shoulder, these are small muscles designed to pull your shoulders back and down and keep the correct space between the two bones providing you with an increased pain free range of motion with correct postural alignment.

It is these Rotator Cuff or S.I.T.T (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor, and Teres major) muscles that they are commonly known are the muscles that are most effected. As these muscles are put under increased loads there job of holding the shoulder in its correct position becomes more difficult.

What happens is the space between the two joint become closer and closer together over time. This causes the S.I.T.T muscles to lengthen and weaken which will decrease the space within the joint and cause friction between two or more of the soft tissue structures. This can result in an impingement syndrome of the tendons, bursa or muscles and will ultimately create an inflammation response in the shoulder joint. 

Another symptom of decreased space in the shoulder girdle is called painful Arc syndrome. This is were you move your arm in a pictular direction and you get a sharp debilitating pain and cannot move you arm any further. The most common movements are when you arm is over head or in bed at night when you are in certain positions for a long period of time.


So what can be done about this I hear you ask??

First you have to identify what movements aggravate it the most and stop doing it!                It is usually a pressing motion, be it bench press, shoulder (overhead) press or press-ups or a combination of all three. You don’t have to stop pressing forever but for now leave it out of your workouts.

Secondly you have to treat the Injury and/or inflammation that will be present. Rest and ice is only effective in the short term. If it is going on any longer than a couple of weeks you most certainly need hands on treatment. This is were I come in..

Lastly you need to rehabilitate the shoulder muscles, strengthen up the opposing muscles to the chest which are the upper and middle back muscles. For every 1 chest exercise you do you need to do 3 back exercises. The Pec muscles will be very tight and restricted so it is a good idea to stretch these at the start of you workout to loosen out the shoulder complex. You can see specific pec stretches on my web-site.

You will have to incorporate scapula (shoulder blade) stabilization, mobilization and strengthen work into the above exercises. While doing these exercises you will feel exactly what muscles are working and create better postural awareness. Once you learn to contract the shoulder stabilizes you can then start to introduce external rotation and lower trapezes strength work to facilitate the whole shoulder joint. 

As you can see this is a very serious and common problem, but left untreated or un-rehabilated it can have more serious knock on effect within the body. So if you have any of the above symptoms contact myself or another specialist as soon as possible because the longer you have this injury the harder and longer it is to re-hab.

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