How to Develop Strong and Healthy Shoulders

Strong and healthy shoulders are key to overall upper body strength and ease of doing the everyday activities of life.  Your shoulders are the most mobile joints in your body and are involved in every upper body movement.  This mobility also makes your shoulders more susceptible to imbalances in strength and flexibility than any other joint.

To understand how to keep your shoulders strong and healthy you have to know a little about the anatomy of your shoulders.  The following is a simple a explanation of the anatomy of your shoulder joint so you can see the major players in it’s health and  movement.

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint and has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. The bones of the shoulder are the humerus (upper arm bone), clavicle (collarbone), and scapula (shoulder blade). The head of the humerus bone (the ball) is lined with cartilage that glides over the shoulder socket (also known as the “glenoid cavity”). The clavicle attaches the shoulder to the rib cage and holds the shoulder out from the body. The scapula is a large triangular bone located on the back side of the upper body, and it is connected to the clavicle through the acromioclavicular (AC) joint.

The head of the humerus sits In the shoulder socket supported by a complicated arrangement of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder.

The deltoid is the largest and most visible muscle of the shoulder and is located on the uppermost part of the arm.  The deltoid is attached by tendons to the skeleton at the clavicle (collarbone), scapula (shoulder blade), and humerus (upper arm bone). The deltoid is widest at the top of the shoulder and narrows to its apex as it travels down the arm. Contraction of the deltoid muscle results in a wide range of movement of the arm at the shoulder due to its location and the wide separation of its muscle fibers.

Developing Strength and Balance in Your Shoulders.

As seen above there is an interplay of muscles in your shoulders involved in each movement you make.  For example, when you reach out to pickup something the deltoid contracts to start the motion of your arm while the rotator cuff works to keep the head of your humerus in your shoulder socket or else your would dislocate your shoulder every time you moved your arm.  Thus a balanced approach to strengthening your shoulders is critical for healthy development.

The best way to develop and strengthen your shoulders is by doing exercises that target both the deltoid and the muscles of the rotator cuff.  Here is a link to one of my favorite exercise routines for developing strong healthy shoulders.  Healthy Shoulder Routine (enter password 55jrfv to view the routine).