4 Key Shoulder Injury Prevention Exercises

4 Key Shoulder Injury Prevention Exercises
by Beth Manion, PT, DPT, SCS

Hey guys! I figured since the last free screen I did was 90% shoulders and unfortunately I’m unable to see any of you right now, I would provide you guys with 4 exercises you can do before your workouts (especially overhead ones) to help prevent shoulder injuries!

Quick history: the shoulder joint has long been known as a ball and socket but, unlike the hip that is snug in its socket, the shoulder is more similar to a golf ball on a Tee.


Luckily, the shoulder is surrounded by lots of ligaments and muscles that hold that golf ball on the tee. However, these muscles are very prone to getting weak, and then can allow for instability of the shoulder in the joint.

So! What do we need to do? Well let’s start with the four P’s:

Four P’s Muscles Job
Glenohumeral protectors Rotator cuff: infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor Protect the joint by fine tuning shoulder motion in the joint (humerus on scapula- golf ball on tee)
Scapular pivoters Peri-scapular muscles: mid trap, low trap, serratus anterior Position scapula so it faces the humerus correctly (positions the tee correctly fort the ball)
Humeral positioners Anterior, middle and post delt Grossly move the humerus (golf ball on tee)
Propellers Pec major and lat Create power to move the arm

This is super important and feel free to reach out if you have specific questions about this! We should be strengthening in this order, but unfortunately, we don’t, nobody does! Everyone has super strong and tight lats and pecs and the majority of us have very weak rotator cuff and peri-scapular muscles. That doesn’t mean we need to stop doing pull ups or bench, it means we need our cuff and scap muscles to catch up!

So here are 4 awesome exercises to do to turn on the cuff and periscaps prior to doing a shoulder workout!

Make sure to do them in this order, 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps, focusing on proper form.

  1. Bilateral shoulder external rotation: for the infraspinatus (rotator cuff external rotator). This exercise actually also gets the low trap to turn on really well, double whammy!

You’ll start with a band between your hands, palms up, elbows tight to your side, bent to 90 degrees. You’ll keep your elbows tight to your sides and rotate your hands out, squeezing your shoulder blades down and back, then slowly return to neutral, keeping tension on the band and elbows locked into the waist.

  1. Hip level band pull aparts: for the supraspinatus (rotator cuff abductor). This muscle lifts the arm up to the side for the first 30 degrees of motion and then the lateral delt takes over.

you’ll start with the band between your hands, palms down at your hips. Pull the band apart keeping it flush to your hips until your hands get a few inches away from your hips, then slowly return to start position, keeping tension on the band.


  1. low row: for the mid trap (scapular adductor). This muscle pinches your shoulder blades together.

you’ll start with a band anchored at hip height hands facing each other, elbows straight. Pull elbows back to hips and squeeze shoulder blades together and down your back. Then slowly release back to start position.

  1. Reach, roll and lift: for the low trap (scapular depressor). This muscle pulls your shoulder blades out of your ears.

Start in a child’s pose with your head resting on your forearm, reach the arm forward, palm down, then roll the thumb up, and lift the whole arm off the ground, pulling the shoulder blade down and back. Hold 2 seconds then lower and repeat. *if this is too hard, you can do it standing up with your hands against the wall to take the weight of your arm against gravity out of the equation

I hope this helps!

If you guys have any questions at all please feel free to reach out on Facebook or phone (7862230338), or email me at

Also, I know times are weird right now but if you’re having any aches and pains, I’d love to be able to help through videochat! Just let me know!

– Coach Beth Manion, PT, DPT, SCS

fill out this form to get started >>

Take the first step towards getting the results that you want!