Shoulder - Save Your Shoulders

Shoulder - Save Your Shoulders

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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