When you think about parts of your body you want to improve, your shoulders are probably among the last things that come to mind. After all, shoulders are shoulders — right? They’re just a small joint; it seems like you would do better to focus your limited gym time on your arms or your back to get the strength and shape you crave.
However, the shoulder is one of the most critical joints in your body — and it is one of the most complex, making it relatively delicate and in great need of special attention, especially during training sessions. Unfortunately, too many women ignore their shoulder health to their own detriment. Here are a few reasons why your shoulders are more important than you suspected and what you can do to treat them better in the future.
The Female Figure Encourages Poor Posture
Women have more than a few reasons to complain about when it comes to the ways their bodies are built, and breasts are rightfully toward the top of the list. Though a necessary (and dare we say attractive) part of the female body, breasts are uncomfortable at the best of times and downright painful at the worst of times.
For many women, the heavy weight that breasts place on their chests causes lower back discomfort, and often breasts cause women of any size to hunch forward, exhibiting poor posture. This causes compaction in the shoulder, which reduces shoulder mobility and results in shoulder weakness and pain. It’s a good idea to remind yourself to sit up straight and maintain good posture, despite the fact that you have breasts.
Women Have Heavy Weight on Their Shoulders (Literally)
Almost all women carry heavy burdens — their purses. These days, most purses hang from the shoulder, instead of being clutched in the hand or strapped to the back. Worse, many women pack their bags to the brim with the necessities they’ll need throughout the day, to include heavy items like books, laptops, water bottles and more.
That heavy, asymmetrical weight on the shoulders causes problems. It forces you to lean in one direction to counter-balance the weight and change your gait to accommodate the purse’s swing. Further, the weight changes the shape of your spine and can pull on the connective tissues in your neck and shoulder. All this for the sake of fashion — so you don’t have to mess up your silhouette with bulky pockets.
It’s Easy to Ignore Shoulder Trouble
In the modern world, there isn’t much need for women to rely on shoulder strength and mobility. Most women have relatively inactive jobs that require little more upper body effort than it takes to use a keyboard. Thus, it’s possible for shoulder issues to develop slowly overtime, without women realizing it. Before you know it, you have a janky shoulder or two, and it takes months (if not years) to fix the problem.
It’s Easier to Take Good Care of Your Shoulders
Here’s the thing: You can neglect your shoulders and allow them to sink further and further forward — or you can spend 30 minutes a week stretching and toning them to improve not just their strength and mobility but also their appearance. Strong shoulders give you poise, and they’ll actually make you more confident, too.
You should start taking good care of your shoulders by addressing any problems that might be restricting your training. Issues like a pinched nerve in your shoulder, bursitis, adhesive capsulitis and more are easily treatable, but you will need medical help to start. Utilizing a joint pain specialist will put you on the fast track to healing, so you can start building strength and mobility sooner.
Next, you should know the basics of shoulder training. Whenever you work your upper body, you should practice the right posture: neck straight up, shoulder blades down and back, chest open, shoulders pointing to the side. Slumping forward at any time during upper body training is like asking for an injury.
It’s important to note that shoulders aren’t like other major muscle groups; while your legs, glutes, chest and arms can handle a heavy bar, the small muscles of your rotator cuff and the delicate ligaments holding your shoulder together really don’t do well under massive weight. Instead, you should focus on high reps, trying to get a burn in your shoulder instead of a true failure of the muscle group. There are literally hundreds of shoulder exercises to try, and you should try all of them in time. The more variation you add into your shoulder workouts — or to any workout, truthfully — the faster you’ll see results.
Finally, you can’t neglect to stretch. Stretching is when you gain more mobility in a joint, and it also helps the body begin to recover after a training session. Many stretches you can and should do at home, even if you haven’t worked your shoulders that day. This will keep your shoulders from feeling tight and help you remember to care for your shoulders at all times.