Whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not this year, spring is here and summer is just around the corner.  It’s time to pack up the sweaters and bring back the tank tops, tees and dresses.

What does the weather have to do with health and fitness? Hopefully it does not directly relate to how often you exercise, what kind of meals you consume or how you care for your mental health, but it does provide for opportunities to refresh ourselves and perhaps amp up our exercise routine.

With that being said, let’s take a quick look into how we can optimize our upper body workouts, with a particular focus on the shoulders.

Consider how important strong shoulders are, not just the deltoids, but the surrounding muscles that support the area to include traps, rhomboids, and rotator cuffs. By properly caring for and strengthening those muscles, you can help prevent injuries, improve posture and benefit from an inviting physical appearance as well.

Although having an attractive physique is a positive result of exercising and eating well, it is not the most important.  What good would it be to have an amazing body but frequently need to visit the doctor for illness, pain, or injury? Often when we find the “why” behind the “what”, it provides the extra boost of motivation needed to press on towards bettering our health.

Some exercises that you can do to keep the shoulders and surrounding muscles strong and useful include push-ups, pull-ups, shoulder press, lateral or front raises, and even add a squat to shoulder press in the routine for a muscle building and fat burning movement.  For maximum engagement, exercises that are done with weights should be executed while standing to help activate your core muscles as well.

Not only is it important to have strong shoulders to help prevent injuries, but it also will improve overall posture. Poor posture has increased and can cause pressure or tension on nerves, not allowing them to properly send messages to the rest of the body, unnecessary stress on our bodies and even illness. Much of it is due to sitting at a desk, often hunched over, carrying heavy groceries, or spending too much time looking down at our phones all compromise correct posture that promotes better health and overall movement and function. A few benefits of strong shoulders that assist in having good posture include better breathing, more self-confidence, optimal digestion, fewer headaches, boosted energy and improved concentration.

Finally, having strong shoulders undoubtedly adds to an attractive physical appearance.  Broad shoulders for a man might communicate power, success, confidence, strength, ability to protect, just to name a few. As for women, should strong shoulders be a concern or focus? I think so. Strong is not only essential for highest function and fewer injuries but it is beautiful, and projects each aspect of success, confidence and capability that a woman may desire to possess.

Go grab that backless dress, muscle tee or whatever outfit that has been lonely on the hanger for far too long and wear it with all the confidence in the world.

By Leslie Stevenson

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