On the recommendation of Mike Reinold, my co-creator of the Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set , we’ve been using forearm wall slides as part of our warm-ups and shoulder health programs for the past year or so. A variation is also featured on our Assess & Correct DVD as both an assessment and corrective drill.
With this exercise, the goal is to get to about 135 degrees of shoulder flexion without shrugging. In other words, you’re checking just how well you upwardly rotate the scapulae. A good progression for this is the forearm wall slides with band, where you simply wrap a band around the wrists. The pull of the band forces your shoulder into internal rotation, so the external rotators (posterior rotator cuff and posterior deltoid) have to work isometrically to resist that movement. As I learned from physical therapist Tim Tyler at the MGH/Harvard Med Sports Medicine 2010 conference recently, it also improves recruitment of the lower trapezius while decreasing anterior deltoid and upper trapezius activity. In other words, it’s one of the best bang for your buck scapular stability and rotator cuff exercises out there: