Many people are familiar with 'W' exercises, but I also like to add a chin tuck to this while using a wall to promote better posture/alignment.
Stand up tall with your back against the wall. Perform an active chin tuck (cervical retraction) so that the back of the head is against the wall.
Now, keeping the elbows tucked in to the side, pull the resistance band apart as you move into external rotation. Pause at the top, and then slowly return to the start position. Perform 2 sets of 8-15 repetitions.
Progression: To advance the exercise, consider having the client move into a wall sit as he/she simultaneously performs the exercise.
This exercise is effective in improving rotator cuff and scapular strength, while encouraging stabilization of the cervical spine.
Encouraging better posture and alignment will open up the chest wall, reduce the risk of shoulder impingement and facilitate the proper balance of mobility/stability for overhead activities.
The resistance should be chosen carefully so that clients can generate the motion using the desired muscles. If resistance is too high or cuff strength is insufficient, clients may arch the back or shift the hips forward to try to finish the movement pattern. This is a great exercise for swimmers, throwers, and any clients with poor posture and rotator cuff/scapular weakness.
Brian Schiff, PT, OCS, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor at Athletes' Performance at Raleigh Orthopaedic (formerly Athletic Performance Center) in Raleigh, NC. Brian presents nationally at several professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention, rehab and sport-specific training. For more cutting edge training information, subscribe to his monthly Training & Sports Medicine Update at www.BrianSchiff.com.