Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Band Resisted External Rotation (with Thumb Anchor)

I've been accused of making exercises up on the fly. Not sure what many may think goes into inventing any exercise for that matter---it takes a basic understanding of anatomy including what muscle actions and joints are involved in the movement; the line of pull/resistance; and the purpose of the exercise. I know I am over-simplifying the process. I am sure there are test subjects and studies conducted using equipment that measure muscle contractions, brain activity, DNA reconstruction, perspiration ratings, and everything short of a lobotomy. 

I'm kidding...but I don't want to piss off the researchers out there doing their thing. I've made up another exercise up for the reason that it has been helping my clients based on the feedback I've received from them. I don't have studies to show you, so please back off the comments saying I should cite PubMed or something of the like. If 16 out of 19 clients that use this exercise tell me that their shoulder pain has subsided after weeks of incorporating this drill--then its a winner in my book.

Enter the Band Resisted External Rotation Drill (Using a Thumb Anchor). This is a simple exercise that is designed to take internally rotated shoulders and force them to rotate externally--strengthening the infraspinatus and teres minor muscles of the rotator cuff group.

The set up is tricky. Find an object that you can tie a band or tubing around securely so that it is parallel with the hand that will be holding it (this is your line of pull). Next, wrap the end of the tube (or band) around  your fist so that the line of pull (vector) is located outside your palm. Use your thumb to anchor the band in place as it may slide off as you begin to rotate your arm. Take a few steps back to create some tension and position your body so that you "feel" the tension created by the band through the shoulder joint--not necessarily your arm or the outside of your arm. Remember to keep the thumb stiff as you begin to rotate your shoulder. The actual action of rotating the shoulder should start and end with the humerus (upper arm bone). It is important to focus on turning the "inside" of your shoulder, rather than simply supinating and pronating the forearm. Another possible mistake if one uses to much tension or poor form is bending the elbow. You will want to keep the arm as straight as possible. This is an important cue I found myself giving to my clients as they were getting sloppy with the execution and missing on the benefits.

When done properly by rotating the 'upper arm bone' within the shoulder joint,  it creates a stretch for the internal rotators--subscapularis and pec minor. These two small muscles are usually very tight in people with hunched-over posture, anterior tilted shoulders, or 'chest breathers'. This movement is subtle and not meant to create cantaloupe-type shoulders. It is meant to create awareness of neutral shoulder positioning and to minimize any muscular strength imbalances in the shoulder.Give it a try and let me know what you think!


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