Shoulder Lifts That Won’t Stress Your Ligaments

Ligaments are bands of fibrous tissue that hold your joints together and connect bone with cartilage. The joint capsule in your shoulder is a collection of ligaments that connects the upper bone of your arm to your shoulder socket. Besides being painful, shoulder ligament injuries can prevent you from being able to exercise or perform ordinary daily activities. Strengthening and improving flexibility of your shoulders can help reduce your risk of a painful shoulder ligament injury.

The most common causes of injury to a shoulder ligament are activities that involve repetitive, overhead motion, such as weightlifting, swimming and playing tennis. Under-developed or weak muscles and ligaments can contribute to shoulder ligament injuries. Shoulder separation or dislocation of the shoulder joint may occur from a fall that separates the ligaments that attach your shoulder joint to your collarbone. Increasing the strength of your shoulder muscles can help reduce your risk of injury to your ligaments and muscles.Stretching your shoulder muscles can help improve flexibility and range of motion to reduce risk of ligament injury. Resistance band exercises can strengthen your shoulder muscles and improve ligament strength and flexibility. Shoulder strengthening exercises can be done as often as 3 times each day. Do 12 repetitions of resistance band exercises daily to improve shoulder strength. Resistance exercises include external rotation, internal rotation, pull-backs and pull-downs.

Warm-up and stretch your muscles before lifting weights. A normal military press is performed by facing the weights of a machine and lifting the weight from behind your head. This position places your shoulder ligaments and joints at risk of injury. Make sure that you are not lifting more weight than you can handle. Face backward on the shoulder press machine to avoid the risky position. Lift the weights straight up from your shoulders.

The lateral raise exercise is a good exercise to improve shoulder strength without stressing your shoulder ligaments. Performing the lateral raise with your palms pointed toward the floor can stress your shoulder ligaments and muscles. Use a neutral grip with your thumbs pointed toward the ceiling when doing lateral raise exercises to reduce stress on your shoulder joints and ligaments.


Water Exercise

Photo Credit: Orgullomoore CC-BY-SA-3.0-migrated
Swimming is one of the most effective whole body exercises you can do. You don’t have to be an expert swimmer or even know how to swim to take advantage of exercising in water. Exercise in a pool can provide a hardcore aerobic workout for your whole body, including your heart and lungs. The water will support your body, take pressure off your joints and muscles while providing resistance to help strengthen  your muscles. If you are not a strong swimmer or you don’t know how to swim, wear a flotation device and make sure the lifeguard at the pool knows you do not know how to swim. Gyms that have a pool and organizations like the YMCA frequently offer water aerobics and water exercise classes for groups if you aren’t sure how to begin or don’t want to invest in water weights. Membership fees for community organizations are usually reasonable. Gym prices vary, but most offer programs at a reasonable cost. 
The easiest water exercise to do is to walk around in the pool. Enter the pool and walk to a point where the water reaches your waist. Walk back and forth across the pool in the waist-deep water to give your legs a good workout. Swing your arms naturally as you would when walking on land. Walk using a normal gait. Avoid pushing off with your toes and don’t lean forward.  Squeezing your abdominal muscles while walking will also give your abs a good isometric workout and help keep you from leaning forward. Walk across the shallow water 15 to 20 times. When  you can do 20 laps in the shallow water without becoming exhausted, try increasing the number of laps or walking in deeper water, up to your chest. 
Incorporate some weight lifting into your water exercise by using water weights. Water weights are like foam dumbbells. They create a lot of resistance in the water. Hold the water weights in your hands with your palms facing up and raise the weights up to the level of the water to exercise your biceps. Hold the weights with your palms facing the bottom of the pool and push the weights through the water toward your back to work your triceps. Try to perform 15 to 20 each of the biceps and triceps curls or until you are tired.  
Finish your water exercise with a few laps of the pool. Even if you don’t know how to swim, you should be able to do a few laps while wearing a flotation vest. If you are uncomfortable in deep water, swim back and forth across the pool in water no deeper than your waist.