Shoulder pain is very common these days and it’s no surprise. We have extremely bad habits that ruin our mobility and range of motion in what the shoulder can do. It was no different for myself only a few years ago when I suffered through shoulder pain for over year that never left. Until I found the solution through experimentation. It was an early morning lift before work where things really changed for me. I decided to do a Barbell Overhead Press with no warmup because I was short on time. I was pushing up and I felt a sudden pop in my shoulder and knew something happened. It wasn’t immediately painful, but later on in the day, when my shoulder was at rest, I would feel a burning sensation in the medial part of the shoulder. After some research I came to my own conclusion that it was an inflamed bursitis. This inflamed bursitis developed into tendinopathy that inflamed the Short and Long Bicep tendons connecting to the shoulder. Any kind of benching movement where my shoulders were internally rotated would aggravate those tendons to a point where I couldn’t Bench Press anymore. This went on for a year or so. I visited the Physiotherapist once and she gave me plenty of exercises to do, but they had no effect. Through self-experimentation, I found there only one exercise that healed my shoulder for good.
Why does shoulder pain happen in the first place? Many of us have awful habits. This is the fault of many jobs that require prolonged sitting. The human body adapts to what is most comfortable. When sitting, the human body begins to fold on itself and the problem sets in: Internally rotated shoulders and slumped posture. To get a greater understanding of shoulder pain, let’s look at the anatomy of the Shoulder Girdle itself.
Look at all the muscles that compile the stabilization, mobility and strength of the shoulder girdle:
- Levator Scapula
- Rhomboid Major/Minor
- Teres Major/Minor
If any one of these muscles begin to fail or weaken, then shoulder problems begin to develop. As result, shoulder pain is a direct cause from the weakening of these muscles. But how is that possible? Let’s look at the posture of the average person today. This is what’s called Upper Cross Syndrome. Your head is pitched forward putting stress on your neck which only tightens your pecs and stretches and tightens all the muscles within your Thoracic Spine. This is the norm as more people sit down for work without any consciousness of their posture. As a result, the ball and socket joint of your shoulder has less mobility to move. Then you go for a Bench Press or Overhead Press and hurt yourself because your body doesn’t have the mobility to complete the reps with proper form. But that’s okay because I have a solution for you.
With this one exercise, you’ll develop a stronger upper back to pull your shoulder girdle back in its proper anatomical position: A strong upright posture. What’s the exercise you ask? Facepulls You can see in the picture above, Facepulls target all the necessary muscles to develop a stronger upper back and shoulder girdle. You can see how the Facepull strengthens your Posterior Delts, Teres Minor and Major, Infraspinatus, Supraspinatus, Traps, and Rhomboids to pull your posture and shoulder girdle back into place. Shoulder pain is caused by your muscles being pulled too far forward and not strengthened enough posteriorly. If you have serious shoulder pain, then I recommend dropping the vertical Pushing movements, such as the Barbell Bench Press, until your shoulder is completely healed. It took me 6 months to get back under the Bench Press, but when I did, I was stronger than before. How come? Because I strengthened my upper back to fix my posture along with the internal rotation in my shoulders.
Cables vs. Bands
There’s various ways to complete the Facepull. You can do with bodyweight, Dumbbells, Cables, and Resistance Bands. I find the most effective way to get them done is with a Resistance Band and Cable as they allow for the best Progressive Overload.
Cables: Cables are great because you can slowly add 2-5lbs to your Facepull. However, I find the Horse Rope attachment makes all the difference. I find the shorter the horse rope, the more difficult it is to achieve the external rotation that’s necessary for proper shoulder health. With a longer Horse Rope, you’ll separate your hands further to stack them on top of your elbows to achieve the necessary external rotation for this movement.
Resistance Bands: Bands on the other hand allow you to achieve a greater external rotation and hand separation at the top part of the movement. I find there’s a better contraction at the end point of the movement. I leave it to you to decide which one is better suited for your needs. Experiment with both and find which one feels better for you and go all in.
Programming Facepulls to Fix Your Shoulders
Through various experimentation, I’ve found the most successful number of reps necessary for Facepulls is 100 REPS DAILY. Yes 100 of them. These don’t have to be done in one go but broken down into as many reps as you need. You can either get them done right away or spread them throughout the day. But by the time you sleep, you should have completed 100 reps of Facepulls. Having bands at home helps you spread them throughout the day. With cables in the gym, you can break these down into as many sets as you’d like for your workout. Since you’ll be doing 100 reps, keep the weight light to achieve those 100 reps without burning yourself out.
Ultimately, your Shoulder health is your Upper Back health is your Postural health. Everything in the body is interconnected, and when one part fails then it puts more stress on other parts to compensate, but eventually those fail too if the problem isn’t properly addressed. The same applies to shoulder pain. If that isn’t properly addressed, you’ll have many more problems down the road. That’s why I recommend doing 100 Facepulls daily because I know for a fact that they’ve helped myself and many of my clients in their shoulder problems. Facepulls open the shoulder girdle to a world of health and longevity, and to think the pain will go away over time without addressing the issue is false. If you want to fix your shoulder today then you’ve got to put in the work, but if you’re not sure in which direction to go I’ve created a program that will not only fix your shoulder health but also your posture. It’s called the Atlas Posture Program. Influenced by the Greek Titan, Atlas, who holds the weight of the world on his shoulders. So too can you with a proper posture.
Inside the program you’ll receive:
- Why having a strong posture is important to being a man
- 4- and 5-week programs that train your posterior chain 3 times a week
- Joint friendly exercises designed to fix your shoulders and posture
- Nutritional principles
- The confidence to take on the world
- The strength to properly fill your shirts with muscles
- The ability to stand tall and proud
Claim your Atlas Posture Program.