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How to Perform Side Planks Without Shoulder Pain

How to Perform Side Planks Without Shoulder Pain

Years ago I remember seeing a video from Mike Reinold about his opinion of side planks for his baseball players. He basically stated that because of the stability requirement and stress on the GH joint of the shoulder, he prefers other options to train the lateral spring system and lateral line. In this article, I will show you how to perform side planks without shoulder pain.

An optimally centrated GH joint in a dynamic environment is dependent upon many factors, including the force couple balance of the structures surrounding the shoulder, the soft-tissue quality of the anterior and posterior aspect of the shoulder joint, current upper body posture and resting position, the congruency of the roll, slide, and glide function of the rotator cuff, previous injuries, asymmetries facilitated by sport specialization, and many others.

So you can definitely understand, when an athlete is performing side planks on their hand or on their elbow, why this can be a contraindicated exercise for many. Fundamentally, planks teach alignment, breath control while holding position, muscular engagement, and tension. So, when beginning to teach position and control, they are a good place to start.

Side Planks for Overhead Throwing Athletes

So the question is, can we make them more comfortable in order to get the training benefits from the exercise but not stress the shoulder for athletes who don’t need more compressive forces at the shoulder? The goal is to allow their arm care program to do its job and progressively work toward optimizing how they load and distribute forces at their shoulder and through their upper body and not add additional stress to the area.

By simply stretching a band across a power rack, we can deload some of the bodyweight stress (deloading more bodyweight is easy by using more band tension or moving the anchor point of the band higher in the cage) during side planks by placing the band immediately under the lat/armpit of the working side. This will allow the athlete to do side planks to gain fundamental stability and position while taking the compressive stress off the shoulder. Try this out! It works!

Other training means that target the lateral line are offset loaded lunges, farmers walk variations, suitcase deadlifts, get-ups, offset loaded split squat variations, overhead carry variations, overhead Pallof press variations, etc.

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By on January 21st, 2020


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