Avoid the “Inevitable” Overuse Injury

Chip Fanelli
Make sure to keep shoulder blades back and down while executing the face pull.

There’s a common assumption among athletes that overuse injuries are inevitable if you want to play a sport competitively for many years. Eventually, your shoulder just can’t take another sharp-angle swing, or your knees are simply going to refuse to land after another approach, right? Not necessarily.

At the Boston Institute of Jump, our number one priority is injury prevention. By strengthening the vulnerable points of an athlete’s body and teaching proper posture and movement patterns, we ensure your shoulders, back, and knees will make it through your high school or college career and beyond without the so-called “inevitable” overuse injuries. Our athletes find their shoulders and other injury-prone areas not only healthy but higher functioning as time goes on. Remember, it is not the specific exercises, resistance, or repetitions that will create a successful “pre-habilitation” program but rather the implementation of proper mechanics while performing the exercises.

Shoulder Fix

Face Pull with Light Resistance Band

Perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Start position

Start with a light resistance band anchored above eye level.

Grasp the band with relaxed hands so it is barely at tension when arms are fully extended.

Arms should be in the same plane as the band, hands pointing straight to where the band is anchored with shoulders pulled back and down. (A)


Begin pulling back the elbows, bringing hands toward ears as elbows stay up and away. Make sure your shoulders do not shrug. Maintain perfect posture, being careful to keep your sternum down and head up. (B)

Gently release your arms back to the starting point while keeping your shoulders back and down.


Cuban Press
Perform 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps.

Start position
Holding a very light weight, no more than 4 pounds, stand erect with your hands at your sides, arms relaxed, shoulders pulled down and back. (C)

Keeping your shoulders down, lift your elbows up to the height of your shoulders, keeping lower arms and hands relaxed and hanging toward the ground, forming a 90 degree angle at the elbow. (D)

Lift your forearms by rotating the weight forward.

Pull your elbows out and back as your wrists finish directly above your elbows, maintaining a 90 degree angle between forearms and upper arms. (E)

Follow the same path on the eccentric portion of the exercise. Letting your wrists lead the way, relax your shoulders and keep your elbows pulling out to the sides.


Cuban Press to Overhead
Perform 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps.

Start position
Begin as in the Cuban press, holding a light weight in each hand with arms at your sides. (F)

Keeping your shoulders down, lift your elbows, as in the Cuban press, but instead of stopping at shoulder level, keep raising your elbows as high as they will go. (G)

When you’ve reached the extent of your range of motion, rotate your forearms up. Once your wrists reach the top, floating above your shoulders, straighten your elbows to push the weight above your head. (H)

The eccentric (down, in this case) motion should be a very controlled, mirror image of the concentric motion (here, up), with your wrists leading the way down. Lower your elbows to just above your shoulders and unwind your wrists, letting your hands pass in front of your shoulders while elbows remain high and pulled away from the ears.

Your elbows follow your wrists toward the ground, until your arms are hanging by your side.


Shoulder Reach with Arm Circles
Perform 1-2 sets of 4-6 reps.

Start position
Stretch your arms out so that you make a “T” with your body, palms facing forward. Consciously reach out with your arms as far as you can. (I)

Keeping your arms straight, make small circles. While making circles, began to lift arms and reach hands above the head. (J)

When you reach the top, reverse your direction, returning arms to your sides, circling the entire way down. That’s one rep. (K-M)


Knee Fix

Perform 1-2 sets of 8-10 reps.

Start position
Start lying face up on the ground with your arms at 45 degree angles to your sides.

Bend your knees, placing your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Slide your feet back toward your hips as far as they will go without having to walk them back.

Pushing through your feet, extend your hips toward the ceiling, making sure your knees don’t flare out. You should find a contraction in your hamstrings and glutes. (N)

Slowly lower your hips back down to the ground and then drive them back up for the next repetition.


Iron Cross Squats
Perform 1-2 sets of 10-12 reps.

Start position
Stand with feet hip-width apart.

Stretch your arms out so that you make a “T” with your body, palms facing forward. As in the shoulder reach, think about reaching out to either side as far as you can. (O)

Squat down by bending at the knees, holding your back erect as if you were going to sit on a chair. As you squat, think about pulling the floor apart with your feet. This helps create a better knee path.

As you squat down, bring the arms in front of you until the palms of the hands are facing each other. Continue to reach through the fingertips. (P)

While continuing to think about spreading the floor apart with your feet, return to the initial position, moving the arms out to your sides in order to form a “T” as you stand upright.

Originally published in November 2013

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