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Exercise of the month: Keep shoulders strong with lateral raises

  • Cox Newspapers
  • Published Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, at 12 a.m.

The lateral shoulder raise is an exercise that, along with the rotator cuff and other muscles, provides strength and stability to the shoulder joint.

Starting position: Stand with dumbbells in hands and arms resting at your sides, feet approximately hip distance apart. If you have trouble with prolonged standing or with balance, you can perform the exercise in a seated position, or place one foot slightly ahead of the other to help stabilize your body.

Maintaining proper posture, gently pull the shoulder blades down and back. Do not allow the back to round. Although the arms should be straight throughout the exercise, avoid locking out the elbow.

Lifting phase: Moving at a slow and controlled pace, begin lifting the dumbbells out to the sides until they reach your greatest normal range of motion. The arms should rise at the same pace and to the same degree, and weights used should be the same in each hand. To establish strength balance, if one arm is weaker than the other, go with the lighter of the two weight loads.

Lowering phase: Moving at a slow and controlled pace, slowly bring the dumbbells back to the starting position.


Before attempting this exercise, it is important that the shoulder joint is healthy. If you have pre-existing injuries or are unaccustomed to exercise, check with your doctor. It is normal to experience some muscle fatigue when resistance training, but if you feel pain you should avoid this exercise until the problem is resolved.

Why is this so important? The shoulder joint has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body and is working every time the arms are used. Because of this, it is susceptible to repetitive overuse syndrome. To avoid overtraining, start out with light weights, increasing only slightly as you become stronger, and gently stretch the muscles after your workout.

If dumbbells are not available, acceptable substitutions are resistance bands, cables or wrist weights.

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