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The Unhooked Shoulder Part 2

20 March 2012 | 3:09 pm

Sarah Ellis

Doctor of Physical Therapy & "super athletes" trainer

Building adequate shoulder strength to handle unhooked kiting can take some work. Cross training on a cable or behind a boat can be an easy and effective way to build strength, but it doesn’t always create balance within the shoulder.

Most shoulder injuries I treat in athletes are actually caused by their “shoulder” being too strong and their midback muscles too weak. If you would like to know where you stand, check out part 1 of the Unhooked Shoulder for the strength tests.

Proper strengthening of the midback muscles (Rhomboids, Middle Traps and Lower Traps) can be done with a few simple exercises.

Reverse Flies
• Use only midback muscles, think about sliding your scapula (shoulder blade) across your back.
• Relax the top of your shoulder.
• Tighten your stomach and have a loose grip on the handle.
• This exercise can also be done face down on a weight bench.





• Squeeze or pinch your scapula together, thinking about opening your chest.
• Relax your arms.
• Remember this is a back exercise, not an arm exercise! It’s up to you to recruit the right muscles.




To finish enhancing scapula control over the shoulder, the serratus anterior muscle ranks top of the list.

This motion is call a scapula press or a push up with a plus. It strengthens scapula control, which in turn creates a very strong stable shoulder.

• Relax the top of your shoulders, try not to active your upper traps.
• Press up keeping your core tight and your chin tucked.
• Keep your elbows straight, this is a small motion that only involves the scapula.

Next on the list after tackling your midback is your rotator cuff. If you start with rotator cuff strengthening before you have adequate scapula strength, your rotator cuff will end up getting over used, leading to possible impingement or tendonitis. Now, if you have ever had rotator cuff tendonitis, you know how painful it can be.

The number one rotator cuff strengthening exercise is external rotation.

• Keep your elbow by your side and bent to 90 degrees
• Think about initiating the movement from your scapula (shoulder blade) in your back and letting your hand just follow along. If you are having trouble with this try looping the band around your wrist, instead of gripping the handle. It should feel like your shoulder rolls open and your hand just follows.
• The work should be coming from the back of the shoulder. If you feel it in the front you are actually doing the exercise incorrectly and can be hurting more than helping. (It may take some practice to get the right muscles to kick in!)
• Take the band back across your body slowly, do not let the band pull you.
• Make sure the band is light, these are small muscles and do not need a whole lot of resistance.

One Comment »

  • Trey Sedalik says:

    This is great Sarah! Thanks again for all your help with my rotator tear- I’m 99%! Back to making passes and approaching maneuvers from a better stance. Thank you!

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