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by Joe Pietaro

Even with proper stretching and warm-up sets, there is no sure-fire way to prevent a shoulder injury. Years of lifting weights and putting immense strain on your deltoids have been treacherous for students of the Iron Game for generations and unless you happen to be really lucky, your time will come.

Because your shoulders are involved in so many other body part movements, it is impossible to not tax them even when you do not intend to. So here are some preventive maintenance measures to take in an attempt to slow the hands of time:

Grab a hold of one of the many stations in the gym; the long side support bars on the cable crossover machine are an example. Straighten your arm out and lean forward. You can get fancy by crisscrossing your feet, as this will lengthen your range of motion. You should feel a great stretch in your front delts and chest. Hold it for 20 or so seconds and switch arms.

Next, grab the same station bar with both hands while bending your knees at a 90-degree angle, with one hand right above the other. Plant your feet firmly into the ground and stretch your arms out all the way until they are straight, holding for another 20 seconds. Swap the top hand with the bottom and do it again.

Lastly, grab the station with one hand and do the same as above. Swap hands, of course, so that you stretch each arm/shoulder.

This is a quick warm-up that you can actually do every day in the gym, regardless of which body part you’re training that day. Grab a five-pound plate in each hand, gripping it by sticking your middle and ring fingers through the hole.

Put your arms straight out to your sides, as if you were at the top part of a side lateral raise rep. Roll your shoulders/hands t the front for 10 reps, then reverse them for 10 more. Then swing each arm in wide circles and alternate them, again using the 10-rep range.

Now, perform a set of 10 side lateral raises and hold it at the top and bottom, not letting the weight touch your outer thigh. Finally, do those little circle twists like you did way back in grade school.

This will get your shoulder joint nice and loose and prepare you for the upcoming grueling workout.

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