Steve Lopez’s Shoulder Injury (and how to prevent it)

UFC 103 was another great event, the level of fighters is just improving so much that most cards have great fights. Vitor proved that he was back with another quick win, and Crocop proved that he’s become pretty much irrelevant to the heavyweight division with his loss to a very scary Junior Dos Santos.

But the highlight for me, being a fitness guy, was watching Steve Lopez’s arm come right out of the shoulder socket.

So why exactly did his arm come out of the socket – and how can you prevent it?

Well there are a couple of reasons that can result in shoulder dislocations.

The first reason is that apparently Lopez has dislocated the shoulder before, so once you dislocate it once, it becomes easier to dislocate it over and over.

If you get caught in a Kimura or Omoplata and you don’t tap in time, basically your ligaments and tendons get stretched as your head of your humerus (upper arm bone) is pulled out of the shoulder (glenohumeral) joint.

Once these tissues are stretched to such a high degree, they never fully regain the tightness they used to have, and it makes it easier for a dislocated shoulder to occur. Easy enough.

But there’s another possibility that could happen, and this is one that you can prevent.

If your horizontal push muscles are overdeveloped like most guys (think Bench press) compared to your horizontal pulling muscles and external shoulder rotators, this is a strength imbalance at your shoulders.

With any strength imbalance, the strong muscles will likely shorten up. In this case, your shoulders will round forward. Now this is a bad posture to be in, because this changes the force-length curve of the muscles and puts the pulling and external shoulder rotators at a disadvantage, further weakening them relative to the push muscles.

Secondly, since the muscles used to throw a punch (pecs, anterior delts) are stronger than the muscles used to to slow the punch down and bring the arm back (rear delts, external shoulder rotators, lats), you can throw your fist out faster than you can slow it down.

This is like driving an Indy Car with brakes that you’d find on a Civic.

When you fire out big bombs like Lopez was doing when he dislocated his shoulder, the pulling and external shoulder rotators can’t slow the arm down, so you literally throw your arm right out of its socket.

So to prevent this from happening, you want to do 2 things:

  1. Make sure your muscles are balanced in the horizontal push and pull movements. You can test this by doing a Flat dumbbell press and compare it to a 1-arm row – the weights should be very similar, if not, you’ve got to get them close.
  2. Train the external rotators using basic strength exercises like Side-lying external rotators and Face pulls, and also eccentric-specific exercises.

Here’s an eccentric exercise for the external shoulder rotators straight from my Advanced MMA Power Training System. This exercise is called the External rotation catch and throw:

This is one of the exercises in Injury Prevention Phase 2 of the Advanced MMA Power Training System.

Here are the phases of the program:

  • Injury Prevention
  • Warmup
  • Maximal Explosive Strength
  • Local Lactic / High Resistance Intervals
  • Systemic Lactic / High Velocity Intervals
  • Peak: NRG / Power Curve

If you truly desire to be in the best fighting shape of your life, you’ve gotta check it out:

=> Click Here to Check Out the Advanced MMA Power Training System

And the offer ends Friday at midnight – so don’t miss your chance to get Advanced MMA Power and the Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Program for one low price.

As always – I love to hear your questions and comments. Leave them below:


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13 years ago


I suffered a grade 2 AC joint separation from a slam while rolling about a year ago. After time, steroids, cortisone shot and therapy it was not healed correctly and I had to undergo arthroscopic surgery to scope the joint and shave the bones so it fit correctly. I’m 2 months into my recovery and have good range of motion. Would this exercise benefit my condition and help me for the future?

13 years ago

Great Post. I’ve never seen an external rotation done in that manner. Looking forward to seeing more posts.