Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ideas for a Healthy Shoulder, Part 2

Last night I posted Part 1 of this post. In Part 2, I'm talking about things in my workouts that have helped my shoulders stay strong, even if shoulders aren't the exercise's first priority. It's nice when stuff pulls double (or triple or quadruple) duty!

Mike and I have a bunch of prescribed general warm-ups that we do on different days throughout the week, and some of them have mountain climbers, dynamic groiners, frog thrusts, and burpees in them. The lady in that mountain climber video does a great job of describing the benefit you'll get in your upper body and core from doing them, and I like everything about her technique (that sounds dirty). The burpee video gets crazy at the end, and we don't do push-ups in the middle of our burpees; I keep my arms straight and my shoulders strong. I remember the first time I did a series of 7 repetitions of all four of these exercises (fondly referred to as the Four Killers), and I thought my arms would fall off! The fact that I felt it the most in my shoulders said to me that I had a lot of room for improvement, and now I feel much more solid. Something to think about to get maximum upper body benefit is to keep your shoulders pressed down/away from your ears while stitching your shoulder blades together. Keep your back strong and flat. You can definitely turn these exercises into full-blown workouts, too!

I had done pull-ups before last year, but never muscle-ups. This guy's method is closest to what Mike and I do, only imagine a bigger, more open chest position on the forward swing to somewhat simulate a javelin position! We've done a few muscle-ups this year in previous blocks, but I've done far more pull-ups, and I think they're doing wonders for my shoulder health. I let my arms extend completely in between each pull-up because I want to pull on my implement from as far behind me as possible, and training the small muscles at the end range of my flexibility is huge for that. I'm not sure pull-ups are the most effective way to train those little muscles, but I think they work well for me!

I can't find any videos I really like for this next part, and I think most people might have a good idea of how to do this stuff, so I will describe. We do a series of planks called Pedestal that has really worked my shoulders along with its main focus, my core stabilizers. Pedestal involves a lot of single leg planks, but start out with four points of contact (two arms and two legs), and work into more difficult territory from there, always keeping your hips and back stable. Work in prone (face down), supine (face up), and side plank positions! Use the same philosophy for these as I stated for the Four Killers; remember to force your shoulders down and away from your ears, and keep your shoulder blades down and together with a flat back.

I've described in recent blogs how happy I am with the work I've done with Dr. Mike Rintala. The exercises he has taught me are mainly geared toward keeping my pesky left SI Joint healthy, but tighten everything up so well that my shoulders have seen a lot of benefits, too! Basically what these exercises do is make my body re-learn the motor patterns that I learned when I was a baby; they teach me how to roll over in a controlled way. It's really difficult to describe further, but similar ideas are being perpetuated in more and more places right now! It may look kind of stupid, but doing these exercises in the right way is really challenging, and it takes your body a while to learn them again to the point where you're proficient. The slightly more advanced variations of that video are where the shoulders come into play, but I'm a big believer that being able to use your core effectively in a throw allows your shoulder to work well, too.

I think that about covers the stuff I really enjoy doing to maintain a healthy shoulder! Please leave more questions in the comments if you have them.

I'm sort of embarrassed about this because I'm not a super intense person, but here's a video of my 100-kilo hang split clean on Thursday!


  1. You posted some really great and helpful info! But how common are shoulder injuries for serious javelin throwers? And do you have specific information as to how to recover from a labrum injury (without surgery), if you've had any experience?

  2. Good questions! I feel like elbow injuries are more common in elite javelin throwers than shoulder injuries, but that is just my general opinion; I think that people tend to hide their injuries to a certain extent so it's hard to know for sure. I don't have any experience (knock on wood) recovering from a labrum injury, but I know that it has been successfully done without surgery. I would imagine that a lot of stabilization exercises would need to be done!

  3. Ha KP this is Keith Hopkins. I watched your split clean video, and that is Kara Patterson Excitement at its best! Congrats and keep up the great work!

  4. Thanks Keith!! I didn't really know I was being filmed until after the lift, and then I got awkward. :)