Sue Falsone: Shoulder Rotation Drills

Dysfunctions in shoulder rotation are Sue Falsone’s topic in this video clip that looks at her go-to corrective exercises for compensations seen in downward rotation.

Excerpted from: Sue Falsone: The Shoulder – Implications for the Overhead Athlete and Beyond

The first thing I want to talk about in this session is the compensation of upward shoulder rotation and poor control coming back into downward shoulder rotation.

When people raise their arms up in the air, we need to see a smooth upward rotation of the shoulder blade and a controlled downward rotation of that shoulder blade. As they raise the arm up, we want see a nice, smooth upward rotation, and when they bring the arm back down, it’s smooth on the way down.

However, what we often see in the presence of some type of shoulder dysfunction is a nice, easy upward rotation of the shoulder blade, but when they go to bring the arm down, we see that shoulder blade literally fall. There’s absolutely no control into the downward rotation, so that really is poor control or poor eccentric control of upward rotation.

As someone is lifting the arm up over the head, we have a concentric upward rotation. When lowering the arm back down, we have an eccentric action of the muscles for upward rotation, so we have this concentric and eccentric type of motion.

When the person goes to lift the arm up overhead and then simply—boom—it falls right back down, that’s because of some poor eccentric control in the scapular stabilizers or in the scapular-controlled mobilizers. We want to fix that compensation or dysfunction, and I’ve found the best way to do that is through closed-chain exercises for the upper extremities.

I’m going to have Lindsay and Krysten demonstrate some of my favorite exercises to help combat this compensation. The first thing we’re going to do is a “downward dog to plank,” which is fitting considering we’re filming in my yoga studio.

Go ahead and get to a plank position, ladies.

What we want to see is exactly what we typically look at when we begin in a plank position—a nice neutral spine. There’s a slight push away in their hands. They’re pushing themselves away just a tad in order to put a little tension in the shoulder blades.

They are going to drive the hips back and upward toward the sky. We’re going to see a nice extension of the thoracic spine, a stretch of the shoulder, and a co-contraction of all the muscles around the shoulder complex.


More from Sue Falsone on the shoulder and cervical thoracic junction:

Sue Falsone Shoulder Video

 Sue Falsone The Cervical Thoracic Junction

If you are interested in Sue’s work with athletes, you can learn more in her book, Bridging the Gap from Rehab to Performance.

Sue Falsone Bridging the Gap