Strength imbalances and poor scapular stability can negatively impact shoulder health and performance. In clientele who are performing repetitive overhead activities (throwing, swimming, tennis, lifting, etc), this may be even more prevalent, potentially leading to faulty mechanics, rotator cuff strain and overuse. This exercise is intended to improve upper body strength, scapular stability and shoulder health.
Position the body in half kneeling with the right knee on a foam pad and perpendicular to the cable column. Grasp the handle with the right hand (palm facing the body) and position the trunk in an erect, neutral spine position. Next, engage the transverse abdominus and left glute to prevent excessive anterior tilt.
Once the body is in proper position, pull the right elbow down and back beyond the right hip. Focus on scapular depression and retraction with the movement (may need to cue this). Pause one second at the bottom, and then slowly return to the start position. Focus on a a deliberate and smooth cadence initially with lighter weight to ensure proper form. Perform 8-10 and repetitions and switch sides by facing the other direction and changing arms. Complete 2-3 sets on each side.
1. Increase time under tension
2. Increase load
3. Perform the concentric motion more explosively if working to improve power
This exercise is effective in addressing any imbalances on either side, while allowing the client to work on shoulder, torso and hip stability throughout a functional movement pattern. It also allows for unilateral pulling while emphasizing scapular depression and dynamic stabilization of the shoulder. Many clients will benefit from using an exercise like this to activate the lower trapezius and combat upper trap dominance.
In the absence of a Free Motion machine or cable machine, you can opt for tubing or theraband resistance. The focus should always be on form and quality of movement as opposed to simply increasing load.