Great weigh-in pic – right?
Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins.
Now look again.
Notice anything about these guys’ shoulders? Especially Jean Pascal’s?
You should. They exhibit a perfect example of what I’ve come to call “Boxer’s shoulder”. It’s the condition where either striking or the constant push-and-pull in Jiu-Jitsu causes your pectorals and the muscles in the front of your shoulders to become too tight for your back muscles.
The result: a rounded back with shoulders that slope forward. And that oh-not-so-nice pain in between the shoulder blades because your Rhomboids are too weak to hold you in the proper position.
If you don’t yet look like Jean Pascal, you want to try a dose of prevention.
1) If you’re striking a lot with your arms or doing a lot of Jiu-Jitsu, cut other “Pec” exercises like push-ups from your workout. You need to work on balancing your body. If you’re already over-exerting your pecs and the front of your body, take any additional time to do back exercises (like back extensions or reverse push-ups on the bench-press bar).
2) Stretch your pecs !
As muscles become stronger, they shorten. This is why boxers’ shoulders are out of alignment: their pecs are too short. You fix this by strengthening your back muscles, but also by loosening your front. A regular pec stretch on the floor or the wall should be done at the end of each workout.
Fixing Boxer’s Shoulder
If you’ve already become misaligned, you’ll want to follow the above advice, and step it up a notch. Preventing a problem is easier than re-adapting your body once it’s already gone out of whack.
You’ll want to add additional exercises to reinforce the backs of your shoulders. Try the “Dragon Fly”
or the Dolphin pose in Yoga.
The stretches to do are essentially those I mentioned earlier plus any other pec or front-of-shoulder stretches you might know.
You really want to integrate these stretches and exercises after every work-out if you find your shoulders are already slumped inwards.
You can also try to concentrate – during the day – to keep your thumbs pointing forwards when you stand. People with boxer’s shoulder tend to have the tops of their hands pointing forward when they stand. You want to rotate your hand so that the thumb points forward instead. This will force your shoulder into its correct position.