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What do I avoid when doing arm-waves external rotation exercise?

Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy
Common errors when doing the arm-waves exercise for external rotation (an exercise that helps restore normal range of motion to the shoulder joint) include:

  • If you experience pain in your shoulder, place thicker pads under your arm until you can feel a stretch with no shoulder pain. Support your wrist and hand with pillows to allow the muscles to relax into the stretch. Otherwise, your shoulder muscles will continue to hold on while trying to stretch and add to joint compression. Slide your elbow down from the 90-degrees abduction position to your side and try again. After the shoulder loosens up, gradually move back into 90 degrees of abduction.
Fixing You: Shoulder & Elbow Pain: Self-treatment for rotator cuff strain, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, and other diagnoses.

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Fixing You: Shoulder & Elbow Pain: Self-treatment for rotator cuff strain, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, and other diagnoses.

The shoulders are a floating system on the trunk, held in place and moved by muscular control. The foundation of shoulder movement is the shoulder blade which has precise resting and moving...

When performing the arm waves exercise for external rotation it is common for the low back to arch or the cervical spine to have increased lordosis. This is a common compensatory pattern, indicating over activity of the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor or the latissimus dorsi. If you observe this motion you have gone too far in to external rotation. When you begin to experience these compensatory motions be sure to contract the abdominals to maintain neutral spine alignment. Keep the shoulder depressed against the floor or table.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.