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Do a thorough warm-up before performing barbell rows.
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Barbell rows, like other compound multi-joint upper body exercises, put your shoulders through a large range of motion. To avoid shoulder pain, balance your upper body strength workouts between pushing exercises, such as the bench press and shoulder press, and pulling exercises, such as barbell rows and lat pulldowns, suggests the Sports Injury Bulletin. This helps correct shoulder muscular imbalances and improves stabilization of your shoulder joints.
Understand Your Shoulders
Your shoulder is stabilized by four rotator cuff muscles and five other muscles that move your shoulder blades. The rotator cuff muscles are the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor. The muscles that stabilize your shoulder blades are the trapezius, levator scapula, rhomboids, pectoralis major and serratus anterior. All these muscles work together to put your shoulders through a large range of movements as you perform exercises, such as barbell rows. Barbell rows work your upper back muscles including your latissimus dorsi or lats, lower and middle trapezius, rhomboids and rear deltoids.
Warm it Up
To reduce the risk of shoulder pain, do a thorough warm up before performing weight lifting exercises and barbell rows. Ten to 15 minutes on the elliptical machine raises your core temperature and loosens up your arms and shoulders as you pull and push the handles. Complete dynamic stretches to prepare your shoulders for the upcoming exercise: Complete shoulder circles, then swing your arms in a big circle to loosen up your shoulder joints. Side bends and hip circles loosen up your lower back, which is also engaged in barbell rows.
Make the Right Choices
Barbell rows externally rotate your shoulders. They rotate your shoulders away from the midline of your body. A balanced strength training program that includes pulling exercises and pushing exercises - those that internally rotate your shoulders and pull your shoulders toward the midline of your body ensure balanced muscular development and reduces the risk of rotator cuff or shoulder injuries. If you already have a rotator cuff or shoulder injury, you may feel shoulder pain after performing barbell rows. Stop immediately if you feel any pain and seek medical advice.
Reduce Risk of Injury
Minimize your risk of injury and shoulder pain by using correct technique when incorporating barbell rows into your routine. Engage your abs to protect your spine and keep your back straight. Using a wide overhand grip with your forearms parallel, pull the barbell to your upper waist - not your chest. Fully engage your rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and mid and lower trapezius by pinching your shoulder blades together. Avoid excessively heavy weights. Use a weight that fatigues you within 12 to 15 reps when using proper technique.
Cool it Down
Gentle stretching exercises may help prevent shoulder pain post-workout. Move your shoulder in a small circle 20 times, then reverse the motion. Then gently swing your arm forward and backward 20 times. Change arms and repeat twice on each side. For another stretch, grasp your right elbow with your left hand, and gently pull your arm across your body until your right hand is hanging over your left shoulder. You should feel a stretch in your right shoulder. Hold the position for a slow count of 10, then change arms, repeating twice.