Reduce Pain and Increase Strength: Hip and Shoulder Stabilization

Hip and Shoulder Stabilization

The general function of exercise, or weight training specifically, is learning to stabilize yourself in order to move weight from point A to point B safely and effectively.

Main reasons for having a goal of stabilization:

  • Safety – by learning to stabilize yourself and properly engage muscle groups responsible for moving heavy loads you will be protecting the more vulnerable parts of your body that cannot handle heavy lifting and are prone to strain and injury, such as your knees and lower back.
  • Strength – by engaging these larger, more capable muscle groups you are ensuring that they do the brunt of the work and therefore become stronger. This leads to a progressive cycle whereby these muscles are able to move heavier and heavier loads and become even better at protecting vulnerable joints and muscle groups.
  • Functional Movement – in the fitness world this term generally means two things: prioritizing spinal stabilization and then initiating movement from the hips and shoulders; and secondly, movements that translate to everyday life. In the simplest terms, learning to properly squat teaches you how to effortlessly get in and out of a chair, and deadlift teaches you how to safely and effectively pick something up.

As you move throughout your day, understanding and prioritizing stabilization will help you keep you pain and injury free. This also includes sitting and standing still.

Purpose behind hip and shoulder stabilization:

Both the hip and shoulder joints are what are referred to as “ball in socket” joints. This joint system allows for tremendous range of motion and an almost unlimited ability to move freely. But with that freedom of movement, also comes with the opportunity for an injury, especially when the joint is loaded or under tension.

Stabilizing the Hip and Shoulder Joints

These ball in socket joints have the capacity for both internal and external rotation within the socket. A result of this impressive range of motion is that it leaves a great deal of slack in the socket in order to allow these movements. In order to prevent injury while these joints are loaded or under tension it becomes necessary to “take the slack” out of the joint; stabilizing and securing it prior to movement.

Cues for stabilizing the hip socket:

  • Screw your feet to the floor; right food goes clockwise, left foot goes counter-clockwise
  • Imagine there is a crack between your feet and you’re trying to spread it apart.
  • Imagine your feet are on plates and you’re trying to spin them out away from you.

It is important to understand the meaning behind these cues:

  • Your feet are not actually moving.
  • When you say “screw your feet into the floor”, what you are really trying to create is tension in the hip socket through external rotational force of the femur into the pelvis (hip socket) using the floor as resistance.
  • Not only does this tension with the floor create a stable hip joint, but the muscle group responsible for externally rotating your leg is your Glutes, the primary divers of your squat, so by initiating this force of external rotation of your hip you activate your Glute muscles and help organize your squat mechanics.

Cues for stabilizing the shoulder socket:

  • Break the bar in half
  • Screw your hands into the floor
  • Draw your shoulder blades down and together

Defining the cues for shoulder stabilziation:

  • Your hands are no actually moving and you are not physically trying to break a bar in half.
  • The goal is to generate tension in the shoulder socket by attempting to externally rotate the humerus bone into the shoulder socket, using the floor or an object as resistance.
  • Your humerus bone connects to your shoulder blade, therefore tension that is created also stabilizes the shoulder blade and activates the Latissimus Dorsi (Lats), a major muscle that attaches to your shoulder blade and is responsible for movement and stabilization within the shoulder system.

Written by: Jamie Maguire 


If you would like to learn more about how stabilizing your Hips and Shoulders can improve your strength and reduce injury; feel free to drop us a line down below! We will get back to you within 24-48 hours!


Why You Have Shoulder Pain | Corrective Exercise Specialists

Although shoulder pain is not as common as knee or low back pain; a large percentage of us are effected by shoulder pain and can’t seem to figure out why. Most pains you feel are stemming from a muscular imbalance somewhere in your body, and if you let it go for too long it can lead to more serious injuries later on down the road.

The Anatomy of The Shoulder Joint

To avoid confusing you, I’m going to use simple terms to describe the basic functions of the shoulder joint. This will help you figure out which motion you are restricted in.

The shoulder is a “ball-and-socket-joint”; just like your hip. There are A LOT of muscles crossing, inserting, and originating from the shoulder joint; which makes it more prone to injury. If you have different tensions coming from different sides of the shoulder; you are more likely to experience some sort of shoulder discomfort.

Here are a few basic functions of the shoulder you will want to test out and see which one you lack mobility in.

    1. Overhead: Possibly the most commonly restricted motion of the shoulder; is to simply raise both arms straight overhead, without compensations. Compensations that may happen would be arching your low back to get your arm up past your head, or shrugging up your traps. If you have full range of motion and functionality; you should be able to raise both arms overhead; in-line with your ears WITHOUT compensation.
    2. Abduction (Lateral Raise): Having the ability to raise your arms straight out to the side without excessively shrugging up or arching your low back shows functionality of the shoulder.
    3. Flexion (Front Raise): Having the ability to raise both arms in front of you without compensations of your low back arching, or excessively shrugging up, also shows functionality and mobility of the joint.
    4. External Rotation


Note: these are not all the functions of the shoulder joint; but these are the five that you will want to assess to determine which range of motion you lack mobility in.

Most Common Muscular Imbalance Causing Pain

As a society, most of us lean towards a more sedentary lifestyle which includes sitting at desk for hours on computer, texting all day, driving excessively, and never holding our posture up.

This leads to our posture getting effected, and commonly the shoulder joint gets rounded forward and gets stuck in this position. Being stuck in Internal Rotation causes you to lose most of the functionality of the shoulder joint; also leading to weakness in the Rear Deltoids, Rotator Cuffs, and excessive tension within the Front Deltoid.

This will push everything inside the shoulder joint to move forward and lose the ability to bring the arms overhead, to the side, front, and back.

Where to Start…

The answer will be different for everyone, but a great place to start would be to work on loosening up your front deltoid by doing shoulder and chest stretches daily; along with using a lacrosse ball or foam roller on the restricted musculature surrounding the joint.

Strengthening the rear deltoids, external rotators, and working on posture daily would be a great way to start decreasing the pain you feel.

If you don’t know where to start; feel free to drop us a question below and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!