The Importance of Upper Body Strength
Have you ever struggled to get your suitcase into the overhead compartment on an airplane? Have you ever felt the strain of your computer bag over your shoulder? Or even asked for help at the supermarket because your groceries were too heavy to handle on your own?
These are common tasks that we should all be able to do effortlessly. However, these types of functions are a challenge for people if they do not have the proper upper body strength. Proper upper body strength improves quality of life & helps prevent chronic aches, pains & injuries. “Previous studies in both cadavers & patient populations have found the prevalence of rotator cuff tears may exceed 50% in individuals older than age 65.” ¹
Strengthening your body to improve everyday functions & avoid injuries should be a goal many strive to do, especially in those 65 & older since rotator cuff injuries happen so often.
The upper body consists primarily of your shoulder & elbow joints. Common muscles that move your shoulder joint are: the deltoids, pectorialis group, trapezius group & latissimus dorsi amongst many. Common muscles that move your elbow joint are: the biceps & triceps amongst many. It’s important to note that the spine plays a big role in upper body function. Strengthening the muscles named is a key component to a strong upper body. Another very important component is good posture. A straight & healthy spine allows the upper body to move freely & without constraint.
One of the most complete upper body exercises you can do is a push-up. A push-up uses your shoulder joint, elbow joint & integrates muscles of the spine & core when performed correctly. To do a standard push-up, place hands & feet on the floor with your body straight. Your hands should rest directly under your shoulder joint & your hips should be lifted with the strength of your core. Slowly lower your chest to the floor & push yourself up with the strength of your pectoralis muscle. Never let your stomach sag & only go as far as you can with good form.
Is this exercise painful for you to do? See a Personal Trainer for ways to modify a push-up so it can meet your strength needs! And remember; always consult your doctor before starting a new fitness regimen.
Source: “New Guideline on Rotator Cuff Problems” by Ken Yamaguchi MD