Upper trap dominance and poor scapular stabilization is a common issue with clients performing repetitive overhead activities (throwing, swimming, tennis, lifting, etc). Faulty mechanics may lead to rotator cuff strain and overuse. This exercise is intended to improve scapular positioning and promote better biomechanics.
Grasp the handles and position the arms so the shoulders are flexed to 90 degrees with the elbows straight. Stand in an athletic position with soft knees and a neutral spine. Next, engage the transverse abdominus and depress the shoulder blades (verbal cue is push the shoulder blades toward the floor).
Once the body is in proper position, pull the arms down to the hips. Pause one second at the bottom, and then slowly return to the start position. Focus on a slow ascent in order to maintain good alignment as the momentum of the weight may cause the body to move more upright or the shoulders to shrug. Perform 10 repetitions. Complete 2-3 sets resisting trunk flexion and scapular elevation throughout the movement.
Perform an alternate arm version and/or increase resistance
This exercise can be used for general core and posterior chain strengthening, but it also serves as a viable alternative to overhead pulling. Specifically, it allows for progressions to unilateral pulling while emphasizing scapular depression and dynamic stabilization of the shoulder. In addition, it promotes proper body alignment, facilitates core stability and strengthens the shoulder.
In the absence of a Keiser/Free Motion machine or ability to use two independent handles, you can opt for tubing or theraband The focus should always be on form and quality of movement as opposed to simply increasing load.