May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, June 1996


The Weight Way to Shoulder Stability
By Cory Johnson

There are only two sure ways to prevent shoulder injuries this summer: work shoulder-strengthening exercises into your routine, or stay on the couch. "The unnatural strain of summer sports requires a specific strengthening regimen," says Dr. Peter Goth, founder of Wilderness Medical Associates. These exercises focus on vital, often underdeveloped muscles. For each, do two or three sets of ten to 15 reps, no more than three times a week.

Lateral Flies
This classic exercise strengthens both the anterior and posterior deltoids, the muscles that move your upper arms away from your body. With your elbows at your sides and bent 90 degrees so that each arm makes an L, swing the dumbbells up and out to the sides until your elbows are even with your ears. Think of creating an arc, with your elbows leading the way. Lower slowly and repeat.

Rotator Cuff Curls
This rotator cuff exercise is usually used for rehabilitation, but if you add a few pounds of weight it works just as well as a muscle-building injury-preventive. Lie on your side, with your upper arm resting on your leg, and bend your elbow 90 degrees so that your forearm extends in front of you. Keeping your elbow in contact with your body at all times, slowly bring your forearm across your stomach and then return it to the starting position, as if it were a door opening and closing with your elbow as a pivot point. Switch sides between sets.

Rear Flies
This exercise isolates the posterior deltoids, which don't get enough attention in most weight-lifting regimens. Lie on your stomach on a straight bench or a 45-degree-incline bench. With a light dumbbell in each hand and your elbows slightly bent, raise your arms backward, toward the ceiling. Go as far as you can until you feel the squeeze in your deltoids. Return your arms to the starting position and repeat.

Front Raises
With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your arms at your sides and your elbows slightly bent. Lift the weights forward and slightly out. (Keeping your thumbs pointed down at all times focuses this exercise on the rotator cuff muscles.) Stop when both arms are even with your shoulders and angled slightly to the side, forming a horizontal V. Hold your arms up for a two-count before slowly bringing them back down. Stand up straight, avoid swinging your back, and don't lock your elbows.

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