Strengthening exercises help recondition, retrain, and build up soft tissue structures that have been hampered by imbalances. The goal is to retrain the neuromuscular, myofascial, and musculoskeletal systems to correct problems and safeguard the body from future harm.
Area(s) of body: Thoracic spine, shoulder girdle
Imbalance(s): Excessive cervical lordosis, excessive thoracic kyphosis, internally rotated arms, protracted shoulder girdle, and elevated scapula
Structures addressed: Erector spinae group, muscles that flex the neck, muscles that retract the head (when performed standing), infraspinatus, teres minor, rhomboids, and trapezius
Exercise benefits: This exercise helps strengthen the muscles that externally rotate the arm and stabilize the scapula while the spine and head are in proper alignment.
How to perform
- Lie on the floor with the lower back flat to the floor with elbows raised to shoulder height and bent, palms facing the feet, and fingers pointing toward the ceiling, using a pillow to support the head and neck if needed.
- Pull your shoulder blades back and down to the floor, tucking your chin in so that the neck does not arch backward to the floor.
- Slowly press the backs of your hands against the floor, keeping your shoulders back and down.
Duration and repetitions: Perform the exercise isometrically, holding the contracted position for 15 to 20 seconds and repeating 2 to 3 times. Progress to 10 to 15 repetitions for 2 to 3 sets, 3 to 4 times per week.
Tip: Keep the pelvis posteriorly rotated throughout to stop the lower back from overarching and to engage the thoracic extensors.
Precaution: Clients who have excessive thoracic kyphosis may shrug their shoulders as they rotate their arms. Coach them to engage their lower traps to help depress their shoulder blades.
Progress: Perform this exercise standing, or add resistance with tubing. Clients should be able to complete 10 to 15 repetitions with good form before adding resistance.
Regress: Use a pillow to support the elbows and a foam roller above the head to decrease the range of movement needed, or perform the Theracane on Trapezius.
Find more strengthening exercises in The Biomechanics Method for Corrective Exercise