Understanding The 3 Sections Of The Deltoid
The muscle fibers that make up the deltoid are a lot like your checkbook.
They can remain unbalanced for long periods of time without serious repercussions. Eventually, however, this imbalance can result in poor posture, shoulder joint problems and a lot of insufficient funds fees. I can't help you with your checkbook, but if you dedicate yourself to a few simple exercises, you can create a well-rounded balance between deltoid groups and improve your shoulder strength and upper-body stature.
The deltoids can be separated into three groups, based on their points of attachment and basic function.
- The anterior deltoid
Comes across the front of the shoulder. It originates on your clavicle, the bone that runs across the front of your shoulder girdle just below your neck. It attaches to the humerus bone in your upper arm. It is used during shoulder flexion (rasing the arm straight out in front of your body) and horizontal adduction (bringing your arms together). These two motions result in forward pushing actions like passing a basketball, pushing your child up into the air to play airplane while you are lying on the floor in the living room and doing a traditional or modified push-up.
- The middle deltoid
Participates in abduction, but this abduction is not in the horizontal plane. These muscle fibers run right over the crest of your shoulder in the sitting or standing position. Think of raising your arm to shoulder height straight out to the side _ this is abduction. Holding a bag or sack of groceries out for your roommate is a good example.
- The posterior deltoid
Comes across the back of the shoulder. It originates on the scapulae and inserts on the humerus. It opposes the motions of the anterior deltoid. It is primarily responsible for shoulder extension (lowering the arm from an elevated position) and shoulder abduction. Posterior deltoid fibers are recruited during pulling-type actions like opening the refrigerator or pulling something apart.
Now that you have a good idea of where this muscle group is and what it does, which of the three areas do you think is the strongest? Consider your daily life and how much of your movement is oriented toward the front of your body? Towards the back?
Because of the extensive pushing movements you encounter every day, the anterior deltoids tend to be overworked. To add to the problem, many people on a weight training program do more exercises that incorporate the anterior deltoid. This is because they can visualize themselves in the mirror during these exercises or they choose an exercise to stress the pectorals and unknowingly they will also work the anterior deltoid.
When an imbalance occurs, usually the anterior deltoids have become tight and shortened while the infrequently worked posterior deltoid is stretched and relaxed. Combined together, the shoulders begin to chronically round forward, which can be seen from the side while standing in front of the mirror.
To correct this problem, consider adding more exercises to your program that recruit posterior deltoids, such as a prone back fly or a seated rowing motion. Also, consider temporarily reducing the number of exercises you perform that require anterior deltoids until you feel the muscle groups have been balanced.
If you are unsure how to do the above exercises or would like more examples, make an appointment with a personal trainer or your fitness center's weight room staff. Through proper form, you can balance those deltoids and regain excellent shoulder girdle posture.
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