Gymnastics for shoulder stability – The 3 Big Tips!

Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne,EdgecliffMarrickville,Bella Vista, Randwick, Lindfield and Balmain continue on with our sporting theme this month. Team member and AEP Steph applies her gymnastics background to give 3 big tips on shoulder stability!

Ever wondered how gymnasts can withstand loads of up to 16 times their body weight through their shoulders during training and competitions? A gymnasts shoulders are subjected to extreme ranges of motion, and simultaneously need to maintain strength and stability in order to safely carry the mass of the body through the movements. But how?! I’ve put together a list of 3 golden tips you can utilise when considering shoulder function and stability, inspired by the incredible shoulder stability that a gymnast possesses.


1.Body weight bearing exercises: Gymnasts primarily perform shoulder strengthening exercises that utilise their body weight or light weights rather than the traditional body building model of using heavier weights. This allows for the shoulders to maintain the necessary range of motion and develop strength without the added weight of unnecessary muscle mass that could hinder their performance. Light to moderate weight and body weight exercises with a slightly higher amount to repetitions (15 for example) are optimal for creating balance between strength and range of motion. Applying this principle at home with dumbbells or no weights, and focusing on conditioning your upper body to support its own weight is a skill that is invaluable in injury prevention.

2.Dynamic shoulder control exercises: The inclusion of dynamic shoulder stability exercises in a typical gymnastics strength and conditioning protocol is fundamental to injury prevention and optimal performance. Many strength training protocols only involve shoulder stability in a confined range and often overlook the dynamic stabilisers of the shoulder, rather focusing on where the most muscle size can be built i.e. the deltoids or the upper trapezius muscles. This down the line can lead to muscle imbalance issues, and overuse issues as the shoulder joint is being stressed consistently without having the fundamental strength throughout the stabilisers to withstand the load. Gymnastics training focuses heavily on adding light loads to rotational based exercises such as a xiaopeng to increase the joint stability. Injures to the shoulder joint most commonly occur due to a lack of strength in the shoulder as it surpasses its tolerated range, so the inclusion of this gymnastics training principle is a great addition to anyone’s program for shoulder pre-habilitation.

3. Perturbation exercises: A large majority of strength and conditioning in gymnastics focuses on introducing perturbation exercises into their strength and conditioning regime. By introducing this element, gymnasts are able to work on increasing their ability to regain balance following perturbations, increasing their overall stability. Training a gymnast to increase their tolerance to perturbations in a handstand position is a common method coaches use to increase shoulder stability and decreases a their chance of falling in a competition based scenario or in a compromising position that could potentially end in I jury such as on a beam. To replicate this principle in a general strength and conditioning program including shoulder stability, the inclusion on unstable surfaces for upper body exercises i.e. completing push-ups on a bosu ball or on TRX bands can mimic this principle and build shoulder strength in unstable scenarios.

These three fundamental gymnastics principles can be incorporated into any program to assist with increasing shoulder stability and reducing the risk of potential shoulder or overuse injuries. If you want to learn more about how you can incorporate these principles into your workout and improve your shoulder stability today you can contact me at !

For more information or to speak directly to a Longevity Exercise Physiologist, Call 1300 964 002



Written by Steph Keily

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