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 The shoulder joint is a complex formation of bones, muscles and tendons and provides a great range of motion for your arm. However, a downside to having this extensive range of motion is that the shoulder joint is more vulnerable to injury.

If you have ever heard a popping sound or felt a sharp pain in your shoulders while weight training then this is a sign a shoulder injury commonly called a rotator cuff tear or shoulder tendonitis. Basically it is a tear or strain in the rotator cuff muscles and tendons.

The tendons of the rotator cuff muscles receive very little oxygen and nutrients from blood supply. This lack of blood supply is the reason why a shoulder injury can often take a long time to heal. This is also why shoulder problems are common in elderly people. The lack of blood supply makes the shoulder joint more vulnerable to degeneration with aging.

The prevention of shoulder injuries comes down the conditioning of the shoulder muscles and tendons, which ultimately involves both stretching and strengthening of the shoulder joint. Warming up properly before your workouts and lifting weights that you are capable of handling with good exercise form will go a long way to help prevent shoulder problems.

Even if you don't have any shoulder problems now, the following rotator cuff strengthening exercises could save you from major problems in the future.

The exercises described below will help strengthen the muscles of your rotator cuff, they should not cause you pain. If the exercise hurts, use a lighter weight or just use the weight of your arms. With rotator cuff exercises you are training a small muscles so you do not have to train them heavy. Use light weights, high reps, and slow controlled form for all rotator cuff work.

Arm Circles:

Using just the weight of your arms do 20 rotations forwards and 20 rotations backwards. Repeat 3 times.

 Standing Rotator Cuff Rotations: 

Hold your arms out to the sides at shoulder level with your elbow bent to 90°. Keeping your elbows bent, rotate your arms until your hands are above your head. Then rotate your arms back down to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 20 reps with very light weights.

 Bradford Press: 

 Grip the bar just a bit wider then shoulder 

width. Press the bar up and lower the bar behind the head. Press the bar back up and lower the bar to the front of the head. Keep alternating pressing to the front and back of the head. Do not lock out the elbows, keep your elbows slightly bent throughout the entire exercise. Do 3 sets of 20 reps with light weight.
Note: if you find a barbell to heavy for this exercise, use a broom stick instead of a barbell.

Standing Dumbbell Flyes: 

 This movement is similar to how you would do chest flyes if you were lying down on a bench. Hold a pair of dumbbells out in front of your body. Keep your elbows bent at all times. Open your arms as wide as you comfortably can and then return your arms to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 20 reps with light weights.

Finish off this rotator cuff workout with a few more sets of arm circles forwards and backwards. Do this rotator cuff workout prior to each workout as part of your warm up before getting into your heavy weight training. This will greatly help to prevent injury and help keep your shoulders strong and healthy.