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Bullet Proof Shoulders for Bowhunting

Bullet Proof Shoulders for Bowhunting
August 21, 2022

Ready or not, bow season is less than a month away and we know there are many people out there who either suffer from shoulder pain or are considering putting down the bow because it hurts to draw. What we are about to discuss is not a miracle pill but it will get you going in the right direction and will help you build stronger, healthier shoulders!

Why does my shoulder hurt when I draw?

Isn’t this the million dollar question? Chances are, it is not one specific thing causing your shoulder to function incorrectly but a myriad of different issues. There is a lot going on inside the shoulder joint and everyone over the age of 40 is going to have some wear and tear. I have suffered from rotator cuff issues and after talking with my physical therapist it almost always comes down to muscle imbalance, weak accessory muscles and poor range of motion (ROM).

Dr. Patrick Rich, DPT, SMFA of Spirit Physical Therapy knows a thing or two about shoulders, bow hunting and how to keep his patients performing in the outdoors. Dr. Rich stated, “Research has shown us that upwards of 80% of people over the age of 40 will have evidence of degeneration or wear and tear on their shoulders on imaging like an MRI or x-ray. While most people don’t have pain with this wear and tear, the presence of it when the shoulder is so naturally unstable can easily create issues when staring through your peep and drawing your bow with that buck in your sights. This is why it’s so important to keep the small stabilizing muscles of the shoulder functioning appropriately to maintain stability and strength.”


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure but dang if we don’t love to bench press? Look at your own workouts and take note of how many exercises in your program are mirror muscles or exercises that you can see the front of your body in the mirror when you perform them. I bet there are more of those exercises than movements that focus on upper/middle/low back, glutes and hamstrings. In my earlier days I often developed biceps tendonitis that caused excruciating pain in the front of my shoulder. I would go to physical therapy, learn rehab exercises with bands, do them for a bit then dump them for bench presses. Then I would develop biceps tendonitis again. It took me a long time to grasp the concept that if I added rehab exercises into my routine as a preventative tool, my tendons would not get inflamed.  Same moves you perform after an injury occurs but you do them prior to making an appointment with your orthopedic doctor or physical therapist. 

Dr. Rich is a HUGE proponent of pre-rehab. Rich stated, “One of the biggest conversations I have with my patients is to shift your mindset when going to the gym from working out just because you have to or because you’re supposed to but instead, think of it as working out to become better at the movement requirements that life requires. This is the basis of pre-rehab. Your workouts in the gym should be thought of as pre-rehab to prevent you from having to modify or stop doing the things you want to do on a daily basis.” 

Bullet Proof Movements

There are a ton of exercises, stretches and other movements that can help you bulletproof your shoulders.  Here are a few of our favorites!

Internal/External Rotation

90 Degree Stability Carry

Half Kneeling Landmine Press

You can also pick up our Bullet Proof Shoulders DIY workout. This program contains two workouts with movement patterns that will improve shoulder stability, strength and increase range of motion for only $4.99!

Click Here to purchase and use code GoWild10 to get an additional 10% knocked off!

It’s great as a standalone workout or can be added to an existing workout program.

Synergizing Modalities
And there is more to healthy shoulders than just performing preventative exercises. Self-care tactics like massage therapy and chiropractic care are pretty important. Pre-rehab exercises keep you strong and flexible, massage therapy helps to improve soft tissue and regular chiropractic care keeps you aligned and moving correctly.

Rich believes that bringing together a variety of modalities will increase your odds of maintaining and improving your shoulder health. Rich continued, “Doing your own pre-rehab exercises is crucial. But sometimes, you need a little help to get the most bang for your buck. If your muscles are tight or you joints are stiff, you won’t be able to get the most of your training and this is where interventions like chiropractic care or massage therapy come into play. They help get your body primed and ready to load it so you can get the most out of your training.”

Hit the deadlifts hard, press all the weight and let the arrows fly but remember to add pre-rehab and self-care to your routine to ensure your shoulders get and stay bullet proof!

Got a fitness or nutrition question? Send us a direct message on GoWild or email us at info@stayfittohunt.com

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