Preventing Shoulder Injuries With One Simple Exercise

Anticipation: A baseball player making a pitch...

The human shoulder is an amazing structure.  Baseball players can transfer forces allowing them to throw upwards of 90 mph, weight lifters can lift and support hundreds of pounds over their heads, and shot putters can toss a 16 lb. piece of metal over 70 feet.  Unfortunately, for any athlete performing overhead activities, the structure of this joint makes it incredibly susceptible to injuries that can impact performance or put them on the sideline.

Two things are needed for the shoulder to perform optimally.  First, it must have enough mobility to move through its’ full range of motion.  Second, there must be a balance in the strength of the various muscles that move and stabilize this joint.  Minor imbalances in either of these factors can increase the risk of injury and potentially decrease performance.  For any athlete whose sport relies heavily on overhead movements, a solid Prehab routine is imperative to stay at the top of their game.

Shot Put Women Combined Competition - Heptathlon

The Face Pull Y-Press (FPYP) is a fantastic exercise that should be part of any Prehab program designed for overhead athletes.  This exercise is a combination of several common shoulder exercises allowing it to efficiently work many of the shoulder muscles needed to help reduce risk of injuries and improve performance.

To perform the FPYP, start with the resistance (resistance bands or cable stacks both work well) at lower chest level directly in front of the athlete. The athlete’s palms should face inwards with the elbows straight.  The movement is begun by bringing the hands back and out so that the forearms are vertical to the ground and the upper arms are parallel to the ground. Next, the elbows are straightened while the hands are pushed upwards creating a 135 degree angle between the ground and the arms, as if making a “Y” with your body. Finally, return to the starting position by slowly bringing the hands down and towards each other while keeping the elbows locked out.

The Face Pull Y Press

The Face Pull Y Press

English: Picture of the arm and shoulder muscles

So what makes this exercise so great?  The combination of movements hits nearly every muscle needed for stability and controlled movement of the shoulder including the rotator cuff, deltoids, and muscles surrounding the shoulder blades.  This exercise also closely resembles many positions and motions performed by overhead athletes.  The top portion of the exercise is similar to the top position of many exercises performed by competitive weight lifters such as the snatch or jerk.  The descent mimics the deceleration portion of throwing a ball or serving a volleyball.

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