With today’s Western society we – in general – are anterior dominate. Anterior means towards the front or forward facing. So if you can picture everything that we do that is in front of us, it pretty much dominates our lives. As I type this blog post my shoulders have a slight round. As you drive to and from work your shoulders are pulled forward. Getting items from the shelves at the grocery store, your shoulders are moving forward.
Then on top of the daily activities we do a ton of forward facing exercises like push-ups, over head presses, dips, etc. As a strength coach part of our job is to help clients minimize and ultimately eliminate pain in their daily lives. So much of the shoulder issues are caused by an imbalance of the chest and upper back muscles.
To help strengthen the upperback I would recommend performing a 2:1 or a 3:1 ratio of total volume for pulling exercises to pushing. That’s not to say that you need to perform double or triple the exercises, but the total number of reps should add up to a 2:1 or a 3:1 ratio.
The number one exercise that I program for any of my athletes to strengthen the upper back with minimal equipment is the band pull apart. Because of the low impact nature of the exercise it can be performed in high reps and when done properly will add a ton of strength and size to your upperback. To start with I would perform 50-100 repetitions throughout the day and progress from there. Now, by simply performing band pull aparts you aren’t going to fix all of your shoulder issues, but you will get the ball rolling.
In addition to performing band pull aparts I would recommend doing some sort of soft tissue work, such as foam rolling, massage, and static stretching. For more information, check out my buddy Jim Smith’s upper back rehab protocol.
Let me know if you have any questions. Keep on it!