The Best Exercises For Crossfit Shoulder Health

By djpope

February 2, 2014

Crossfit, exercises, injury prevention, mobility, motor control, rotator cuff, scapula, Shoulder, stability, Thoracic spine

crossfit-injuries-1As we all know, shoulder health is paramount in crossfit.  From personal experience I’ve found that shoulders tend to be one of the most commonly injured and painful joints in crossfit.  I believe one of the major reasons for this is that Crossfit contains a large amount of shoulder intensive exercises.   To reinforce the point, here are some of the most common crossfit exercises:

  • Barbell / dumbbell / kettlebell overhead press, push press, thrusters, push/split jerk
  • Pushups, handstand pushups, handstand walking, dips, burpees
  • Pull-ups, kipping pull-ups, toes to bar
  • Barbell Snatches, dumbbell and kettlebell snatches, overhead squats

It’s a large list of tough exercises.   Another thing to keep in mind is that our shoulders are not weight bearing joints.  What this means is that they weren’t designed to take the stress of weightbearing every day like our ankles, knees and hips.  Our knees and hips can generally take more of a beating on a more frequent basis.

However, the exercise selection crossfit uses is part of why crossfit is so much fun.  The above listed exercises are also just great exercises.  Instead of knocking crossfit for their exercise selection, let’s figure out how we can promote shoulder health in the sport.

A few things that need to be optimized for success in crossfit:

  • Full range of motion in the shoulder joint and thoracic spine
  • Scapular stability and motor control to create and maintain proper shoulder position
  • Strength and endurance of the rotator cuff to maintain joint integrity throughout all crossfit exercises

With the advent of shoulder injury prevention programs like Crossover Symmetry the idea of prevention is getting more and more widely accepted.  What I’ve done is compile a list of my favorite shoulder health exercises that is specifically catered toward the crossfit athlete.  I’ve put the exercises into a nicely packaged video that you can see below.

I recommend adding some of these exercises into your warm-up or just adding these exercises into your program 1-2 times per week for general shoulder health.  Keep in mind that exercise technique and shoulder health exercises are only part of the equation.  For a complete solution for shoulder health, a proper crossfit program needs to be in place.  For more information about how I program for crossfit and a done for you monthly program for crossfit performance you can click HERE:

Don’t mind the stain on my shirt in the video,

Dan Pope DPT, CSCS

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