Do you suffer from shoulder pain? Are you waking each morning feeling like you have spent the night lifting weights rather than sleeping soundly? Our shoulders look like a fairly simple joint, but this is far from the truth.

When people think of shoulders and shoulder pain, they immediately think of the rotator cuff. These 4 muscles have been reported as the root cause for shoulder pain for too long. And therefore also become the primary focus of many a rehabilitation plan. But what about the other muscles of the shoulder? You would be surprised to know that there are 17 muscles that attach to the shoulder. Weakness in any one of these muscles is going to potentially lead to pain and dysfunction of the area. Especially if you are lifting heavy weights or lifting over head.

Here are 4 simple exercise to bulletproof your shoulders before you lift. Ensuring you have good activation of as many muscle around the shoulder as possible will reduce the chance shoulder pain and an injury.

Prone Ts: 

This exercise targets the middle trapezius, a large muscle responsible for bringing your shoulders “down and back” as well as moving the shoulder blade as you attempt to lift the arm over head. You need to ensure your neck is in a comfortable position throughout the movement. Shoulder Pain

This exercise requires you  to engage the muscles of your middle back, while relaxing the muscles of the Low back and Upper back.


  • Put your hands directly out from your shoulders to your sides, forming a “T” .
  • Make fists with your hands, then stick out your thumbs and point them toward the ceiling.
  • Breathe out, slowly pinch your shoulder blades together, and drive your thumbs upward slowly toward the ceiling until you can’t pinch anymore.

This should be performed without pain. Hold this pinching for 3 seconds, then slowly relax back down to the starting position. Repeat 10-15 times.

Prone Ys

Similar set up to the Prone T.. The Prone Y targets the Lower Trapezius. Again this muscle helps bring the shoulder “down and back”. This helps in improving your shoulder posture and improve  the “rounded shoulder look. Weakness in our lower traps has been associated with impingement of the shoulder and it’s inner structures, leading to shoulder pain.

Side Lying External Rotation:


Now, it’s also important NOT to neglect the rotator cuff when dealing with shoulder pain or preparing your shoulder for exercise. Activating your external rotators assists in centralising your arm in its socket to ensure good quality movement and reduces the change of injuring the shoulder during movement.


  • Essential to have a rolled up towel to between your elbow and your ribs, ensuring quality, controlled movement.
  • Keep the elbow bent to 90 degree’s as you rotate your arm upwards towards the ceiling.
  • Ensuring the shoulder blade again in the “down and back” position and feel the muscles at the back of the shoulder start work and activate. 

Serratus Anterior Activation:

One of our very important muscles, and often neglected, is the Serratus Anterior. This muscle is essential in developing good shoulder health and reducing the chance of shoulder pain. This muscle helps stabilise the shoulder and is vital  for pain free movement of the arm upwards, above the shoulder.


  • Start in your plank position – arms shoulder width apart, neutral spine.
  • Let your shoulder blades approximate – Phase 1 (Downward phase) 
  • Then push upwards away from the floor. Phase 2 (Upward phase) 

As you can appreciate, it’s a small movement with  a target being only the shoulder blades moving. Being careful not to let the lower back sag and the neck staying in the same place/ with no movement.

All of these exercises should be performed in a PAIN FREE setting. Ensuring they are performed in a SLOW and Controlled manner. 

At Equilibrium Sports and Spinal clinic we thrive on helping Glen Iris locals who are suffering with shoulder pain. Our Osteopaths service Malvern, Glen Iris, Ashburton, Toorak, South Yarra, Hawthorn and Caulfield. Let us help guide you to better shoulder health and wellbeing, and turn that shoulder pain into a thing of the past!

Any Questions?

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