SHOULDER WORKOUTS – ITYs
Named after the shape your body and arms make when you perform the exercise. Use a light resistance band for this and perform 10 reps in each position I,T, and Y before resting, do 3 sets in total. Its also worth noting that these can be done with light dumbbells while lying face down on an elevated bench.
BAND PULL APARTS
Excellent for strengthening scapular retraction, aim for 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
Don’t be put off by the gruesome name, these can be really beneficial for shoulder health and mobility.
Crossfit doesn’t feature a lot of heavy rowing movements (the rowing machine is mostly quad dominant) so athletes tend to develop weaker lower and mid traps around the scapula compared to their dominant upper trapezius muscles which are constantly worked from exercises like cleans and deadlifts. To balance out your back strength, include barbell or dumbell rows in your training. Rowing movements are great for your shoulder and scapular health as well as having a strong carryover to weightlifting.
Also, always being mindful of the position of your scaps during a WOD can go a long way to improving their function and save you from injury.
When doing pull-ups, toes to bar, push ups, ring dips, bench press or almost any upper body exercise, make sure you are actively pulling your scaps down and back and soon this stronger position will become second nature.
SCAPULAR HEALTH: MASSAGE AND RECOVERY
Finally, it’s important to mention that massage can really help to unglue tissues around your scapula. Spending years in bad shoulder positions can cause the muscles to stiffen and knot, so to help them activate properly use a lacrosse ball, tennis ball or ‘peanut’ and place it in the area between your scapulae and spine. Apply some gentle pressure by leaning against a wall or lying on the floor and move the ball up and down this area and wherever you feel a few lumps or knots, keep the ball in there until you feel it start to loosen. Spend five minutes on the left and right side and after you’ll feel like you’ve got a brand-new set of shoulders.
Incorporating these exercises into your training, either as a warm up or post-WOD accessory work will only take about 30 minutes a week but will go a long way to making you a stronger athlete and keep you Crossfitting for years to come.