Last, I talked about the reasons we are susceptible to shoulder injuries in our acro practices.
But that shouldn't create fear, and it doesn't mean we can't practice those cool moves in acro.
It just means we need to be a little bit more aware, and sensible in how we practice.
Plus I am going to share some general points and tips now on how to avoid shoulder issues and injuries in acro that you can use and apply!
First of all is prehab and warming up.
This is often overlooked, and not actually valued enough.
Because we don't see the direct benefit of it, but actually every time we do proper prehab and warm-ups we are reducing the risk of injuries and issues.
For me when I am about to do a standing acro session I will spend a good portion of time warming up my shoulders, core and legs a lot.
For the shoulders I do some static and dynamic hanging exercises (just hanging holds, L-sit holds, or swinging one arm to the other) and some pull-ups. These are great for activating your shoulders, for getting blood flowing and pumping.
It's the opposite muscles to the pushing that you will use in acro, but it's still super valuable.
I also will warm up with some overhead presses. I take a light bar (10 - 30kg) and do a bunch of overhead standing presses to warm up in the range of motion I'm going to be using.
Plus I open up my range of motion of the shoulders with things like puppy dog pose and overarching handstands to mobilise.
And of course some handstands.
If you're a flyer maybe you don't need to do this full amount, but I think committing some amount of time to warming up the shoulders is absolutely necessary.
Second is patience and what I like to describe as going a bit slower to go faster.
The point I want to drive home with this is that it takes time for your body to adapt, to grow stronger and more stable.
Just having this understanding and outlook means that rather than rushing to unlock the skill, instead you can take the approach of gradually building up the strength and skill to unlock skills in a safer way.
For example if you're trying to learn standing hand to hand, make sure you practice L-base hand to hands a lot, the shoulder demand is much less, but you will steadily build strength and skill there.
And also maybe consider working on foot to hands, or in the gym to build gradually more strength in your shoulders.
Then eventually you will unlock the hand to hand, maybe a bit slower, but actually it will be faster because you won't have any injuries and delays.
Another way to think about this is maybe you can work on hand to hands the first time for 5 minutes until your shoulders are fatigued and tired.
Then next session aim for 6 minutes, and slowly build up your endurance and strength that way.
Rather than rushing to unlock the skill.
Also giving enough time for rest is important when building strength.
If you do a bunch of shoulder intensive acro back to back for a few days the muscles will be losing power until you give them proper rest.
There is a lot of knowledge to be taken from weightlifting in terms of strength building, training, rest, and you can apply this to the more strength-based skills in acro like hand to hands.
Third is progressions and safety in your acro practice itself.
Injuries and issues can occur in the shoulder or even worse with a bad fall or wild move.
So I would highly recommend, if you're working on skills that are near your strength limit, to ensure you practice as safely as possible.
With spotters, crash mats, or a harness.
Having that added layer of safety allows you to just take a small amount of added power demand off of you when coming out of a pose.
Also if you have a wild entry to hand to hand then the spotter or harness can help stabilise and reduce the instability and sudden movements.
Maybe there is nothing hugely revelatory in this advice, but sometimes it helps to be reminded, or hear it voiced in a different way.
So I hope this helps you in your practice to stay safe and keep your shoulders healthy!
I can tell you with a gradual and steady approach my shoulders have got way, way stronger and they feel pretty stable and solid since the past 1 to 2 years training standing hand to hands.
So a slow and steady approach really does work, and in some ways it will get you there faster than the alternative!