Updated: Feb 24
Judging by the picture good ole Popeye understood that a strong grip was not only important in the ability to open a can of Spinach with a good squeeze, but was also an indicator of general body strength.
Not only does your grip strength tell us how strong your shoulder is but by training it we can also make our shoulder rehab exercises more effective and increase the strength of our arm.
How does grip strength increase our shoulder strength?
The theory of how this works is that the muscles of the shoulder have to increase their work to provide a "stable platform" when firmly gripping an object. Studies have shown that the muscles of the rotator cuff increase their activity during tests of grip strength. This phenomenon is more pronounced with arm held out to the side or in front of you.
By adding gripping strategies to your shoulder exercises you can increase the effectiveness of them. Also adding simple grip strength exercise to your exercise program will also help those aching shoulders.
"Lobster grip" or how to grip to maximize shoulder muscle activity.
The lobster grip, or lumbrical grip, is a favourite of Stuart McGill who is the renowned back rehabilitation expert.
His method is to maximize the effect of your gripping a bar or kettlebell so that the other muscles in the shoulder and core become more engaged.
Here's a video to show you how to do get a grip like our favourite lobster, Dr Zoidberg.
Combing gripping with shoulder exercises.
A clever way to get the most out of your shoulder rehab is to add a gripping element to the exercise. This can be as simple as;
Using the lobster grip when holding a dumbell, kettlebell or TRx.
Increasing the handle width with fat grip or towel.
Using gripping elements to carry equipment in the gym.
The beauty of this technique is even if you are in an early post operative phase there is no reason you can't get your shoulder going by starting with some gripping.
Here are some examples for you to try:
Our top 5 grip related training exercises.
You don't need any fancy equipment to train your grip, but i'm a sucker for a gadget.
For fat grips you can use a rolled up hand towel. Instead of grippers you can use a tennis ball. Anything that really challenges you to grip harder.
Here are examples of various simple ways to improve your grip and shoulder strength.
Banded flexion with grippers or ball.
Fat grip / towel rotations.
Fat grip / towel rows.
Inverted kettlebell press.
fat grip raises / inverted kettlebell raises.
There you have it, some simple but highly effective ways to get the best return on your shoulder exercises. If that fails then theres always the spinach to fall back on , yuk yuk yuk .
Need some help with your shoulder ?
Feel free to give us a call or book in with us if you or anyone you know have any shoulder related issues. Just click here
If you like a bit of smooth jazz heres some laid back grip related tunes