Shoulder Exercises: The Evidence

Everything we do at OrthoWell is evidence-based! Maximizing results in minimal time depends on the expertise of the clinician. As our knowledge of biomechanics and muscle function improves, more of an emphasis is placed on scientifically based rehabilitation protocols. This is particularly true regarding the shoulder and scapulothoracic complex. In the February 2009 volume of JOSPT, Mike Reinold, the Boston Red Sox team physical therapist, presented a thorough analysis of the shoulder and scapular stabilization exercise literature. One of the most effective exercises for each muscle will be presented.


Supraspinatus
*Full Can Exercise
*Enhances scapular position>
*Decreased deltoid compared to empty can
*Minimizes superior humeral translation

Infraspinatus/Teres Minor
*Side-lying ER
*Minimal capsular strain
*25% increased EMG using towel roll
*Highest EMG for infraspinatus

Subscapularis
*IR at 90 deg abd
*Position of shoulder stability
*Enhanced scapular postion
*Less pectoralis activity than 0 deg abd

Serratus Anterior
*Push-up with plus
*Easy position to resist protraction
*High EMG activity
*Also activates subscapularis

Lower Trapezius
*Prone full can at 135 deg abd
*Full can = horiz abd with ER(thumbs up)
*High EMG activity
*Also activates infraspinatus, teres minor, Mid traps, supraspinatus

Middle Trapezius
*Prone Full Can at 90 deg abd
*High EMG activity
*Also activates infraspinatus, teres minor, Mid traps, supraspinatus

Rhomboids
*Prone Row
*Below 90 deg abduction
*High EMG activity
*Good ratio of upper, mid, low traps

Combo Exercise
*Bilateral T-band ER
*25% increased EMG ER’s with towel roll
*Good ratio upper:lower traps per McCabe
*Emphasize scapula retraction and post tilting

In addition, it is clinically imperative to ensure proper technique during all therapeutic exercises especially as your patient is progressed to plyometrics, closed chain UE exercises, and sport- specific exercise training. Proper exercise TECHNIQUE and proper exercise CHOICE is required to effectively treat the muscular imbalances seen in most shoulder pathologies.

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