When we think about what it takes to stay healthy and strong, many of us visualize all the work we do in class to lift, pull, push, roll, or otherwise move our own weight and/or the weight in front of us. It’s easy to come into the gym for 60 minutes, then walk right back out the door and on to your life. But in a sport like ours, it’s important to remember that our cooldown can be just as important as the workout itself. When it comes to tired, achy shoulders and longterm shoulder health, taking a little time before or after class for some accessory work can make a big difference.
Here are three things that I do religiously to help keep my shoulders healthy and strong:
- Banded Pulls. Wrap a thin red band around a post at eye-level and do these three exercises:
- Protraction/Retraction Pull: Grab the band with both hands, walk back so there’s tension on the band, then let your shoulders roll forward (protraction). Keeping your arms straight, roll your shoulders back and down until you’re standing upright again (retraction). Move between this protraction and retraction a few times.
- Face Pull: With the band still in both hands, set your shoulders back and down and pull the band to your chin with your elbows high. Elbows should finish above your shoulders.
- Single Arm Pull: Grab the band with one hand, turn your palm up to the ceiling, and pull the band towards your armpit. Only pull as far back as you can without moving your shoulder up to meet the band.
- Mobilize. Stretch and strengthen your upper back with these three exercises:
- Sit in the bottom of a squat and use one elbow to push against the inside of your knee while the other to reaches up towards the ceiling. Press into your elbow to get a deeper stretch.
- Facing up, lay with a foam roller under your thoracic spine with your legs out in front of you. Wrap your arms around yourself or put them straight overhead and roll back-and-forth from the bottom of your ribs to the top.
- Attach a thin red band low around a post and come to a tabletop position on all fours. Grab the band with one hand and pull the band under and across your body toward the knee opposite from whichever hand you’re using.
- Crossover Symmetry. Warming up and loosening your shoulders before each workout can help your in-workout transitions smoother and your shoulder recovery faster. Learn how and when to use the Crossover Symmetry bands in this primer video, and instruction cards are always next to the bands in the far left corner of the gym.
Get after it and good luck!