Dryland Tip: Side Lying External Rotation with Manual Resistance and Perturbations
Purpose: Rotator cuff stability is essential for a healthy swimming career. The side-lying external rotation exercises are a beginner exercise for the swimmer to learn how to approximate their shoulder in the joint. If the rotator cuff muscles have poor timing and are uncoordinated, then the shoulder has instability and is at risk for shoulder injury. This movement also improves the strength of the posterior rotator cuff, a weak area due to the high volumes of internal rotation performed during the catch phase of most strokes.
Directions: Lie on your side with a towel between your elbow and your side. While keeping your elbow at your side, move your arms to the side moving your shoulder blade into the compact position. Have a partner tap your arm in all planes of motion and apply gradual resistance. Ensure the athlete is using the muscles in between the shoulder blades and they are not elevating their shoulder toward their ear.
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Dr. G. John Mullen is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. At USC, he was a clinical research assistant at USC performing research on adolescent diabetes, lung adaptations to swimming, and swimming biomechanics. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal. He is currently the strength and conditioning coach at Santa Clara Swim Club, owner of the Center of Optimal Restoration and creator of Swimming Science.
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