Safeguard your shoulders
Did you know that some neck exercises can actually send your shoulder joints out of whack?
If you're someone who thinks heavy behind-the-neck lat pull-downs and behind-the-neck barbell shoulder presses make you a badass lifter, you couldn't be fooling anyone but yourself. More than anything, it's just poor form!
Both these exercises are detrimental for your shoulder joint, for the very reason that this joint is not supposed to rotate enough to take the arms that far behind the head. They put the joint in a position we call the closed-packed-a position where the joint stability is at its lowest.
The shoulder, a ball-and-socket joint at the top part of our arm bone (humerus), is ball shaped as the name suggests and sits in a shallow socket (glenoid fossa) made by the shoulder blade (scapula). Structures like the shoulder capsule and ligaments keep your arm bone securely anchored in the shoulder socket.
But in the closed pack position the shoulder joint surfaces become maximally fit and the capsule and ligaments are bound in their ability to lengthen, leaving the shoulder joint compressed and immobile. To understand what's happening to your shoulder joint in this position, imagine a towel held at both ends and twisted in opposite directions. The shear stress caused by the behind the-neck movement subjects the shoulder to unwarranted damage.
Understand that more than the position, it is the amount of resistance the weight puts on your shoulder in an unnatural position. To decrease stress on the joint and reduce its risk of injury, the best position undoubtedly is to bring the bar in front of the shoulder.
This is the position where your shoulder is least jeopardised, given that it gives the joint the best freedom of movement in the capsule and ligaments and thus providing a safer alternative to avoid injuries in the future.
While some tried and tested old school techniques still remain as the mainstay of most workouts, the highly acclaimed behind-the-neck movements claiming to work the muscle in the upper and middle back (rhomboids and the lower and middle trapezius) remains a die-hard misnomer.
On the contrary, pulling heavy weight behind the neck might just make you hit the bar to your cervical spine and cause injury. The lat pull-downs and the front shoulder press are very effective and more than adequate for building strong shoulders and a V-taper in your upper body. Remember bad form is the catalyst to most muscular injuries.
Re: Safeguard your shoulders
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