Are Overhead Presses Really That Important?

29 . 10 . 2015 by aaron

Are Overhead Presses Really That Important?

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So in this article my goal is to present a alternative to how we approach shoulder training and not to downplay the process of an overhead press. First off, need to breakdown the shoulder anatomy and function of the muscles that move the humeral joint.

The shoulder is the most flexible joint in the entire human body. Our shoulder joint is formed by the union of the humerus, the scapula (or shoulder blade), and the clavicle (or collarbone). The shoulder is actually made up of two separate joints – the glenohumeral and acromioclavicular joints. These two joints work together to allow the arm both to circumduct in a large circle and to rotate around its axis at the shoulder. The glenohumeral joint is a ball-and-socket joint that is controlled by the intrinsic muscles that make up the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff consists of four muscles (stabilizes shoulder joint):
• Teres minor-laterally rotates the arm
• Infraspinatus-laterally rotates the arm at the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint)
• Supraspinatus-abduction of the arm (assists deltoid in this motion)
• Subscapularis-medially rotates the arm

Minus the deltoid muscles these are key muscles that involve specifically in the stabilization of the glenohumeral joint. They are not made to interact in heavy motions of the shoulder joint but only has strong stabilizers to lock in the joint with stability. This is where overhead presses can possibly place more damaging impact. If we take a step back and look at what we can receive from an overhead press as far as benefits then we can list on level of importance this movement has on our body.

OVERHEAD PRESS:
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PROS:
1. INCREASE STRENGTH
2. INCREASE CORE STABILITY
3. INCREASE HYPERTROPHY OF PEC MAJOR AND ANTERIOR/MEDIAL DELTOID MUSCLES
4. INCREASE SCAPULAR MOTION

CONS:
1. INCREASE STRESS ON GLENOHUMERAL JOINT
2. INCREASE STRESS ON CLAVICLE
3. INCREASE STREES ON ACROMIOCLIAVICULAR JOINT
4. INCREASE STRESS ON ALL FOUR ROTATOR CUFF MUSCLES
5. INCREASE HYPEREXTENSION OF LOWER BACK (ADDED DISC PRESSURE.. GRAVITY + OVERHEAD WEIGHT= EXTRA DISCAL LOAD)
6. INCREASE PRESSURE ON BURSA (CAN AGGRAVATE AND INCREASE CHANCES IN BURSITIS OF THE SHOULDER JOINT)

The goal is not to refute the reasons behind performing an overhead press but to know that biomechanics are very important and some of us are better equipped to perform this exercise than others. If you are a candidate with repeated shoulder injuries then I would refrain from doing an overhead press for a while and see if can rehab with specified banded rehab exercises involving the use of rotator cuff muscles.

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Follow Dr. Trey Hodge on Instagram @DrTeamHodge

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