Overhead athletes often suffer from poor scapular stability and asymmetrical shoulder weakness. For throwers, tennis/volleyball players, and swimmers having sufficient posterior shoulder strength is imperative for injury prevention. This is also true for anyone doing repetitive overhead lifts. This exercise is an excellent way to promote optimal scapular stability and rotator cuff strength.
Execution: Begin in a prone position lying over a bench that is slightly inclined. Position the torso so the head/neck are not on the bench. The feet should be shoulder width apart with the chest/sternum resting on the bench. Instruct the client to perform a chin tuck (cervical retraction) and hold this position during the exercise. The arms will initially be positioned along the sides of the body with the palms facing back or away from the body.
Grasp small plates or light dumbbells and perform a horizontal row. Next move into horizontal external rotation. Pause, and then return to the start position in reverse order. Perform 5-10 slow and controlled repetitions focusing on symmetry and maintaining a neutral spine position.
Progressions: Advance to a horizontal shoulder press after moving into full horizontal external rotation. This will additionally challenge dynamic stability. You may also add weight to increase difficulty.
Regression: Perform the exercise without resistance
Application: This exercise series promotes scapular stability and rotator cuff strength. It will reduce muscle imbalances and help prevent injuries. This exercise is ideal for overhead athletes, as they often display poor external rotation strength and get fatigued. The exercise can be utilized as part of a corrective exercise program, prehab routine, warm-up or in-season arm care.