Lateral Raises

Among my regular shoulder exercises, and the shoulder exercises of many others, are Lateral Raises...moving your arm outward from the side of your body (abduction) against resistance. It's a very simple and effective movement that you'd think is straight-forward to perform proficiently, however, it's an exercise that I see performed often which could be much improved. I have 4 main points to raise, as regards form and improvement of it. 

First, your Supraspinatus (a small muscle of the rotator cuff) helps to initiate lateral arm movement...with this in mind, it is fairly foolhardy to use momentum to swing big weights around.

Second, excessive bending of the elbow, bringing the weight closer. If you are unable to keep your elbow in a locked (stiff) position, the weight is too shortening the distance, you are in effect decreasing the load.

Third, try to keep a neutral hand-position. When struggling, it's common to see someone turning their hand upward (supinate) causing external rotation of their arm or facing their thumb down (pronate) and causing internal rotation of the arm. These two things are not helpful in best hitting the lateral head of the deltoid and could cause issues relating to the tendons of the arm and shoulder.

Fourth, the mid-position should be slightly above shoulder height...short movements provide a mechanical advantage and not taxing the lateral head of your deltoid to their maximum. At parallel, the weight is at its furthest (most heavy) point and going slightly beyond then causes elevation of your shoulder and brings in the mid traps to assist in the movement.

In short, keep the weights light and concentrate on form. Start a few inches away from your thigh. Lift the weight slowly, ensuring a neutral hand/ arm position, to just above shoulder height. Then, lower slowly to the start-position and repeat. The exercise can be performed one-arm at a time or two-arm (both arms in unison). Dumbbells, cables, bands, kettlebells or even bottles of water are all adequate ways of achieving resistance. 

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