Your shoulders are your life in Pole and Aerials Arts, so we all owe them some time to keep them in good condition to continue doing what we love.

The shoulder is the most unstable joint
in the body. It is a ball and socket joint, similar to a golf ball sitting in a tee. For the joint to remain stable during movement the surrounding muscles have to be active and strong. Teachers often talk about ‘engaging’ your shoulder, pulling it ‘back and down’ and the ‘push and pull’ mechanics of tricks. These cues encourage the muscles to effectively work to prevent the shoulder from moving in harmful ways that under load or over time can cause injury. Don’t let these words scare you!
By listening to your teachers and taking the time to build strength, especially required for high level moves (e.g. handsprings), you can avoid injury. It’s also important to listen to your body when it needs rest and seek professional advice when an injury may be developing.

The Rotator Cuff is a group of stabilising muscles that are responsible for keeping the ball and socket joint in position. They include:

– Supraspinatus
– Infraspinatus
– Subscapularis
– Teres Minor
These muscles allow the outer strength muscles like your deltoid, biceps, triceps, ‘traps’ and ‘lats’ to work at their best.

Muscles can be injured if they are:

– Placed under high load they are not yet strong enough to support
– Subjected to incorrect technique (poor positioning)
– Pushed to rapidly increase training load
– Overtrained (leading to fatigue)
– Overstretched under load

This can result in pain, recurring problems if not managed with professional advice and unfortunately time off training. Common injuries that can occur include tendinopathies (damage to tendons), strains (muscle tears), impingement (blocking normal movement) and bursitis (inflammation of the joint’s cushioning).

How do we prevent this to keep training our passion??

Adequate warm up – don’t ever spontaneously pump out a trick, the risk you take with injury is too high. Include shoulder specific movements without body weight and ensure you wake up every muscle!

Trigger point pre-exercise – lacrosse balls are great for self-massage and releasing tight muscles. Follow cirque_physio and docjenfit on Instagram for great rehab, warm up and strengthening tips.

Stretching – this allows the joint to move well so the muscles and ligaments can protect it.

ENGAGE – be aware of what the correct position feels like, when you are using your strength to stabilise and then power safely through those tricks! Use a mirror for feedback and listen to your teacher’s guidance on corrections and positioning. Train those patterns into “muscle memory” so you continually avoid injury.

It’s about training smart, PhysiFam, so you can continue to do what we all love <3.

Written by Lauren

Shoulders are the most important muscle for aerials and the most prone to injury.