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Many people suffer from poor scapular stability and asymmetrical shoulder weakness. This is especially worrisome for those involved in overhead lifts/sports, repetitive activity and throwing. Incorporating routine scapular and shoulder strengthening will help balance the shoulders and reduce injury risk. The following exercises, also known as I's, T's and Y's are effective in improving posture and shoulder function..
 
Execution:
Begin in a prone position lying over a stability ball. The feet should be shoulder width apart with the chest/sternum resting on the ball. Instruct the client to perform a chin tuck (cervical retraction). The arms will initially be positioned along the sides of the body with the palms down to perform shoulder extension, or the "I" movement. 

"I" - slowly extend the arms lifting them up. Pause at the top and then return to the start position. Perform 10-15 repetitions.

"T" - the arms are now perpendicular to the body and resting on the ball. Palms may face down or the shoulders can be externally rotated with the thumbs pointing up. Slowly lift the arms up squeezing the shoulder blades together. Pause at the top and then return to the start position. Perform 10-15 repetitions.

"Y" - the arms are now elevated to about 135 degrees of shoulder elevation. Again, the palms may face down or the shoulders can be externally rotated with the thumbs up. Slowly lift the arms up squeezing the shoulder blades together. Pause at the top and then return to the start position. Perform 10-15 repetitions.

Progression:
Add light weight provided form is maintained. In addition, you can place the feet together to provide more instability for the entire the kinetic chain. 

Regression:
Perform the exercises in kneeling to provide additional support and reduce the balance component. 

Application:
This exercise series promotes scapular stability and rotator cuff strength. It will improve shoulder mobility, reduce muscle imbalances and help prevent injuries. These exercises are ideal for overhead athletes such as swimmers, throwers, volleyball players, gymnasts and those performing overhead lifts. They can be utilized as part of a corrective exercise program, prehab routine, warm-up or in-season arm care.

The stability ball also offers an opportunity to utilize both arms at the same time and improve postural alignment and posterior chain strength for those with poor posture and mechanical neck/back discomfort related to prolonged sitting. 


Brian Schiff, PT, OCS, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor for EXOS API at Raleigh Orthopaedic. Brian conducts live continuing education webinars and presents nationally at professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention, rehab and sport-specific training. For more information on his products and services, visit
www.BrianSchiff.com.

Topic: Functionally Fit

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