Todd Ellenbecker, DPT of Physiotherapy Associates in Scottsdale, Arizona sought to determine the best position for head during a commonly-prescribed shoulder exercise using Thera-Band® Soft Weights. Prone horizontal abduction and prone shoulder external rotation at 90° were performed with the head in three different positions: neutral and rotated toward or away from the exercising shoulder. Ellenbecker, director of Sports Medicine for the ATP tour commented, “We use this exercise quite a bit in our professional tennis players. This study will help us make better clinical decisions about our exercise prescription.”
Dr. Ellenbecker examined the electromyographic (EMG) activity of the upper trapezius during each exercise and found no significant difference in upper trapezius activation between head positions; however, the lowest level of activation was seen with the head rotated toward the exercising shoulder. “Since we would prefer to minimize activation of the upper trapezius muscle during this rehabilitation exercise, it appears best to have the patient turn the head toward the shoulder we are exercising.” said Ellenbecker. Dr. Ellenbecker presented his findings at the TRAC 2009 meeting in Cancun, Mexico. Read the research abstract here.