An exercise that I want to go through is the Shrugs exercise for two reasons. The first being that most people don’t do it properly and secondly it’s a great Shoulder Rehab exercise when done in the correct sequence and with a couple of alterations.
The photo sequence above shows how to NOT do it as here the head is pushed forwards, which not only puts a strain on the neck, it also means that you squeeze the brachial plexus of nerves and arteries – which compromises the muscles in the shoulder and arm. So keep your head in a neutral position (i.e. the head directly over your shoulders and in line with your lower neck) throughout the exercise.
It is best to start this exercise by taking a light pair of dumbbells and stand straight, arms by your sides and simply raise your shoulders directly upwards as high as you can, pause then lower them to the shoulders down position. You are only working your trapezius muscles (the muscles on top of your shoulders that run upwards to the bottom of your skull…and you are only really using the top portion of these muscles).
There are many variations of this exercise as you can use a barbell held in front of your body and you complete the same movement and don’t bend your elbows because if you start doing this, the exercise becomes an Upright Rowing movement. In Olympic Lifting we used to call a Shrug an exercise that starts on the ground in front of you and you pull the bar from the ground swiftly and continue the movement with a shrugging movement at the top while raising up onto the toes…but that is an advanced movement and you need guidance in doing it properly. It is one of those exercises that you progress very quickly on the resistances you use as the trapezius muscle is very strong…but this brings me to using it as a Rehab exercise…
As a Rehab Exercise
Most importantly the Shrug movement should only be done at the end part of a Shoulder Rehab program after some prerequisite movements have been done and on average it would take a full six weeks to get to that point. Why I say this is if you want to get the most out of this exercise and you only start with between 2 – 10 kilogram dumbbells in each hand and while keeping your arms straight, swing the dumbbells forwards and backwards pivoting the arms from your shoulders.
But firstly Shoulder Rehab really starts as Neck Rehab because some experts say that most, if not all shoulder and arm problems (that are not caused by trauma) are caused by the head being in the Forward Tilt position as I said previously in this post because this squeezes the brachial plexus which compromises the blood and nerve supply to these parts of the upper body. This can cause other health issues such as misdiagnosed breathing disorders or even causing high blood pressure. There are very important nerves that branch out of the cervical spine (the neck part) and if you squeeze those, it will cause death as a most drastic result! So if you are like many people of the modern era, you tend to sit for long periods of time with your head tilted forward using a computer, or worse, texting on a cellphone as this causes the head to poke even further forward. The result is that the head seems to stay in this forward position while you are awake and in any position. I will go over the specific exercises you need to do in a sequence in this week’s Health Post.
So you need to realign the head and redevelop the natural curve of the neck first. Then you need to drop the shoulders into a natural position and also deal with any shoulder pain (such as Rotator Cuff problems) or Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (wrist) before you attempt the Shrug exercise.
I want to cover this topic in both posts this week because I think it that important!