Defining shoulder stability: Definitions can sometimes be ambiguous, however we need a starting point for this article.
We define stability as the capacity of the muscles and connective tissue to maintain a position or movement despite the perturbations such as the movement of the weight for example.
Therefore the muscles will contract and relax with the exact amount of strength and precision to maintain the posture that we want to achieve.
For example if we look at an overhead squat with a dumbbell, all the muscles of the rotator cuff, combined with the muscles of the back and core should work with minor adjustments to be able to maintain the dumbbell in a vertical position during the entire range of motion of the squat. The appropriate muscles will also be reduced in tension to allow us to lower the weight.
Why is it beneficial to work on shoulder stability?
Simply put, more stability can help to avoid injuries due to unwanted compensatory movements.
If you imagine a very mobile athlete doing an overhead squat with out stabilising the position, we would expect them to see collapse at the bottom of the squat, knees touching and shoulders excessively rotated.
Shoulder Stability Exercises
Which exercises help me develop more shoulder stability?
Typically exercises that can be performed slowly, focusing on the position of the scapula and the humerus all the time and help develop strength in a controlled way.
Some of the exercises will be purely strengthening in the correct directions and some will require balance which helps the musculature to align properly.
BOTTOM UP PRESS
This exercise should be performed with a light kettlebell, holding it with the bottom up.
The shoulder and elbow should be in a 90º position, with the scapula down and slightly back (aiming to get closer to the spine but not exaggerated).
This movement can be performed seated, in a lunge position, standing or walking. That would represent a progression from easy to hard.
W,T, Y AND I
These letters symbolize the movement of our arms during the exercise.
Sit downwards on an incline bench (around 45º) with your forehead resting on the bench. Perform the 4 different movements with your arms (w,t,y and i) by doing 5 of each to complete one set. Complete a total of 4 sets.
These movements will focus on the movement and shoulder stability of the scapula. Always avoid bringing your shoulders up against your ears.
BAMBOO BAR PRESSES
With a pvc pipe or an empty barbell, attach elastic bands with kb hanging instead of plates.
Perform a shoulder press. The movement of the hanging kettlebells and the elastic bands will generate imbalances in the movement. This in turn will cause your muscles to balance and stabilise the object and maintain the path of the press. Holding the bar and hanging kettlebells for a few seconds in the overhead position also makes for a great core exercise.
HOLLOW PLANK ON RINGS
The rings provide an unstable surface that will cause the instability we need to make our stability muscles work.
Place the rings low enough to perform a plank and maintain the hollow position, pushing and keeping the scapulas protracted. If this is too easy, try moving the rings back and forward in small movements to generate more instability.
Don’t forget to add this to your programming at the end of the session or at the beginning to awaken the muscles before a snatch or overhead session.
Remember to use light weights at the beginning and focus on the positioning and the correct activation of the muscles.