Tests and Exercises for Shoulder Health

Other Mobility Articles: Hip Mobility | Thoracic Mobility | Ankle Mobility


Shoulder health is important, especially if you’re planning to bench press and overhead press heavy weight on a regular basis without destroying your shoulder(s). So what can you do to help prevent shoulder injuries? First off, make sure your technique on all movements (especially the ones where you’re moving heavy weight) is good. I covered the basics of the deadlift in an article yesterday and I’ll get around to the other main lifts as well in a similar fashion, but until then: Read Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. It’s easily the best book for in depth descriptions of the main barbell lifts. I’d go as far as saying that it should be required reading before you even touch a barbell, but I guess you could learn proper technique in other ways too (i.e. through a great couch or various YouTube videos). Enough of that though… back to the shoulder health thing.

I’ll pretty much jump straight into some videos that will help you test how healthy your shoulder is right now. A lot of this will come from Omar Isuf’s YouTube channel, because I think he did a really great job of covering this aspect of training with his videos.


I think it might be a little excessive for a warmup routine, but the impingement tests and some of the exercises can definitely benefit you.


I particularly like the shrug variations and face pulls in this one.


I definitely include the following exercises in my shoulder prehab routine: Cable External Rotation, Dumbbell Cuban Press and Poor Man Shoulder Horn


One last, pretty important, thing about shoulder prehab work with weights is that you want to keep it light. You’re basically trying to build up smaller muscles that don’t get activated as much when you’re doing heavy presses and rows (among other heavy exercises), so you have to keep it light in order for the large muscle groups not to take over the movement. Usually you can do 2-5 sets of 10-20 reps with light weight on most of the movements.


Below is a nice twist on the Shoulder Dislocation exercise from Elliott Hulse:


Corrective Stretching, Mobility and Soft Tissue Work

This is the active recovery portion of your shoulder prehab work. I would do most of it after your main workout or at some other time (i.e. the day after an upper body workout). My ‘go to’ for stuff like that is Mobility WOD, so I’ll just link you some shoulder mobility videos from Kelly Starrett: Shoulder Mob, Another Shoulder Mob, Upper Body Maintenance, MobilityWOD Shoulder Playlist on YouTube… There is plenty more on YouTube from MobilityWOD about shoulders.


This video also helps. It’s pretty long though. Cliffs: Do band pull-aparts and shoulder dislocations for your shoulders. Also try to incorporate behind the neck pressing.


And… as always, this is just my opinion on the matter and how to go about keeping your shoulders healthy.