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Indian Club Exercises for Improved Shoulder and Spinal Mobility

Indian clubs are incredibly useful for improving shoulder and spinal mobility. They come in a variety of materials and weights. When first starting with them, whether you have limitations or not, it's generally wise to begin with the lightest clubs you can find. I suggest starting with 1-pound clubs and gradually working up to 2 or 3 pound clubs only if you feel that your shoulders can use more weight. The maximum weight that I find I need for an excellent shoulder workout is 5 pounds. In this video, I am using 3-pound wooden clubs.

Please note that before doing any new exercise, it is prudent to discuss your plans with your physician, especially if you have a history of injury.

The distribution of weight within Indian clubs are such that as you swing them, if you keep your shoulders relaxed, the momentum of the clubs will take your shoulders and upper spine through an excellent workout that helps restore and maintain optimal range of motion.

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Polyurethane clubs by Garage Fit and wooden clubs by Revolution Clubs are the two types that I regularly use - you can learn more about them here:

Indian Clubs at Amazon

As you swing Indian clubs, strive to keep your core engaged while allowing your shoulders and spine to swing as freely as possible - these conditions help prevent injury and allow for optimal gains in mobility and core strength.

I suggest working one shoulder at a time, beginning with an easy back and forth motion along your side without taking the club above shoulder height until you feel your shoulder capsule is warmed up.

Follow this up with arm circles, backward and forward.

Then, swinging both clubs at the same time, take them forward and then back over your shoulders, allowing your elbows to bend and taking your shoulder joints through external rotation. Swing them back down to your sides and repeat this motion for several passes to warm up the tissues of your rotator cuff tendons and muscles.

Next, try the same upward motion with both clubs at the same time, but keep your elbows straight and stop when the clubs are pointing straight up. Allow them to drop down to your sides, and repeat for several passes.

Keep your core engaged, take the clubs directly overhead with your elbows straight, then take the clubs through small circles - this is excellent for improving functional overhead strength.

When you feel your shoulders and spine are well perfused with blood, take your shoulder through a throwing motion. Strive to keep the club moving throughout this throwing motion, and allow the club to fall behind your back before you swing it up and forward.

Then, while facing forward, move the club behind your head as you would to scratch the back of your neck, but continue moving your arm up around your head in a partial circle as shown in the video - as your arm circles above your head, your forearm may graze the top of your head. Keep your arm moving through this arc for several passes to improve internal rotation of your shoulder joint.

Finish with full arm circles forward and backward.

If you have any questions about using Indian clubs, please feel free to use the comments section below, or write to me at benkim@drbenkim.com.

For an overview of exercise progressions that you can work at to improve your mobility and balance in a systematic way, please feel free to visit our Mobility Exercise Progressions page here:

Mobility Exercise Progressions

For some suggestions on how to set up a simple workout area at home, please feel free to view:

Suggested Resources for a Home Gym

 
 

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Comments

Would this type of exercise (featured in your recent article) be appropriate for someone with arthritis of the spine and neck, as well as rotator cuff issues?

When done conservatively, yes, these exercises can be helpful to all the issues that you mentioned, but every situation is different, so it's prudent to work with a professional who can help you assess your progress and ensure that you don't worsen your situation.

Does anyone know of a good workout routine with the Indian Clubs?

My husband had a separated shoulder in high school 30+ years ago. He doesn't have great range of motion, but he loves golf and this looks like it could help him greatly. Thanks!!!

Thank you for the post.My significant other had an isolated shoulder in secondary school 40+ years back. He doesn't have the incredible scope of movement, yet he adores golf and this seems as though it could help him significantly.

 

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