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Dumbbells – They’re Not So Dumb

Article Submitted By: Gregg Williams -Sports Performance Specialist (SPS)

Dumbbells (They’re not so dumb)
Three years ago, I received a phone call from a young man in his late twenties. He had gotten my name and number from a current client of mine. He shared with me an interesting but yet disturbing story about his injury. His story paraphrased: He was skiing down a steep slope when all of a sudden he “hit” a spot that caused him to lose his balance. In which he took a terrible fall. The fall caused a serious injury to his right shoulder. There were no fractures but definite soft tissue tears (rotator cuff). They were not complete tears, just enough for surgery.Of course he needed therapy for function and strength to return to activity. This is when I received his called. I told him that we need to focus on three goals: Increase range of motion, Balance agonist and antagonist muscles and strengthen the stabilizers for support. When I wrote up his exercise prescription, he was surprised to see a program with an all dumbbell routine. The purpose for all dumbbell will increase shoulder stabilization and strength much quicker that a barbell and bands. I am still working with this person and his strength is 100% better today than three years ago.

As a rule, any athlete that I work with including knee injuries, low back injuries, and any other shoulder/chest injury, I will use dumbbells as the main part of my routines. The benfits are numerous ranging from working the secondary stabilizers to muscle/joint integrity improvement to muscle balance. Here’s a sample of a routine that I used with a runner who was having chronic back pain due to hip muscle imbalances: Squats with one dumbbell on the shoulder alternate the shoulder, Single stiff legged dealift, Dumbbell sumo style dealifts, Hold the dumbbell overhead while lunging and Lateral lunges with a dumbbell overhead. The purpose for using one dumbbell is to increase lateral strength while balancing opposing muscles.

For more information or if you have specific questions regarding prescribed programs, you can contact me through the