How high should you
raise your arms when doing front or lateral arm raises? If you're like
the majority of bodybuilders and athletes who do these exercises, you'll
probably answer, "To the level position," that is, where the arms are
parallel to the floor.
The reason for such
execution is based on the supposed prevention of shoulder impingement,
which is usually characterized by pain in the shoulder when the
upper-arm bone (humerus) jams in the shoulder joint and pinches a nerve.
However, shoulder impingement can occur only when a malfunction of the
muscles or some other problem already exists in the shoulder joint. The
mere act of raising your arms from directly up in front of or from the
side of the body to a completely overhead position does not by itself
cause shoulder impingement.
In fact, if you
closely examine the muscle involvement in these exercises, you'll find
that moving from the level to the overhead position offers the most
productive range of motion. This is the best range of motion for maximum
involvements of not only the deltoids, but also the upper and lower-trapezius
muscles and serratus anterior. Stopping at the level position eliminates
most of the deltoid involvement and only partially utilizes the
trapezius and serratus muscles.
When the muscles that
move the scapulae are well-developed, they move and rotate the scapulae
in synchronization with arm movement so that the shoulder joint turns
and opens up in the direction of the movement. Synchronized rotation,
abduction (sliding to the sides of the ribcage) and elevation of the
scapulae are crucial in preventing shoulder impingement.
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