Improper mechanics when lifting above shoulder level can lead to injury if your shoulder girdle isn’t stabilized or prepped for overhead movement. Whether you are packing away holiday boxes in the attic, working overhead in a warehouse, or simply putting away dishes on the top shelf of your cupboard, you need to develop foundational strength in your deltoids, triceps, pectorals, and trapezius muscles to assist with overhead lifting.
Exercises that can help stabilize your shoulder:
Skullcrusher (lying tricep extension)
Shoulder external rotation
Shoulder Internal rotation
Incline chest press
With shoulder press variations, there is not a large list like the squat and deadlift, however, we'll briefly list and discuss a few variations that are my go to moves in the gym.
Dumbbell shoulder press: This can be performed by alternating arms, pressing with both arms, reciprocating, or even single arm.
Seated dumbbell or barbell press: This exercise is in a seated position to stabilize your spine while pressing overhead with dumbbells or a barbell.
Military Press: This is performed typically with a barbell. This is a more advanced press due to it being a heavier load from adding weight to an already weighted barbell.
Dumbbell or barbell push press: This is more of an explosive press and typically loaded with heavier weight. Since the weight is heavier, you should load and drive through the hips to push the weight overhead.
By individually strengthening the muscles listed in the first paragraph of this blog, you will be able to perform any overhead lifting with confidence at less of a risk for injury to your cervical spine or even your spinal column as a whole. Though these exercises are beneficial, being sure to create balance in your training plan to promote anterior and posterior muscle balance. Balance is crucial because muscular imbalances can lead to injury, but that is a whole different subject to be addressed at another time.