Starting Position: Lie flat on your back on a mat in a bent-knee position and place a small pillow, rolled-up towel or foam pad under your head. Depress and retract your scapulae (pull shoulders back and down) without moving your trunk and attempt to hold this position throughout the exercise. While holding a light dumbbell or weight in one hand, press that arm vertically while maintaining a neutral wrist (i.e., wrist aligned with your forearm) and scapula (shoulder blade) in contact with the mat. Place your opposite arm at the side of your body.
Stiffen (“brace”) your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine and maintain this throughout the exercise. Gently exhale and rotate your trunk and legs slowly towards the arm placed at your side while keeping the extended arm vertical to the floor at all times and the upper shoulder stable (i.e., no movement of the shoulder blade). Continue to rotate until your belly button is level with the floor. This places a significant stretch and increased load into the upper shoulder. Control movement (stabilize) in this shoulder and avoid any arching in your low back that may accompany the rotation. Stiffening (“bracing”) your abdominal muscles will help prevent this.
Pause momentarily then slowly return back to your starting position. Perform 1 set x 5 – 10 repetitions at a slow, controlled tempo (pace), then repeat to the opposite side.
Exercise Variation: If a light dumbbell is not available, perform this exercise without any resistance or with any weighted device. The exercise complexity is increased by holding a kettle bell that has an “offset center of mass.”
To maximize the benefits of this exercise and reduce the potential for injury, it is often important to stabilize the scapula and control movement carefully. Follow the instructions provided carefully