The Shoulder “W” Exercise

by Dzuka Lin, PT at Action Reaction Physical Therapy

There are a lot of benefits of the Shoulder “W” exercise. The exercise combines shoulder external rotation with scapular retraction and posterior tilt, definitely a great benefit as it recruits the posterior rotator cuff (infraspinatus and teres minor) and the lower trapezius, which I emphasize for a significant number of my patients, including post-op/pre-operative shoulder patients and patients with impingements.

A study by McCabe et al (NAJSPT 2007) demonstrated that the shoulder W exercise exhibited a moderate amount of posterior rotator cuff and lower trapezius EMG activity. But more notable for me was the finding that this exercise produced minimal upper trapezius activity and the highest ratio of lower trapezius to upper trapezius activity. It has been found that upper trapezius often overworks more than the lower trapezius and may cause a muscle imbalance. This imbalance often leads to impingement of the shoulder (supraspinatus and biceps tendon to be more specific), so that explains why I like an exercise that really emphasizes the lower trap and posterior rotator cuff, especially since a lot of us (but not all of us) are people weighed down by gravity, which pulls us forward so we develop a nice hunched over “cooked shrimp” posture.

How to do a good shoulder “W” exercise

I grasp a good piece of Theraband about shoulder width apart and hold with my thumbs up. I’ve seen many people recommend that you point your thumbs back, I don’t really think that supinating your forearm changes the exercise so I’d rather keep the forearm in neutral and really just focus on the shoulder and scapula (don’t cock the wrist forward or back)

The other tidbit I would recommend, and the origin of the name “W” exercise, is that I like to keep a 90 degree angle at the elbow, which ends up form a “W” when you reach end range of external rotation. This happens because the lat muscle mass causes your arms to abduct a little bit of your body. I wouldn’t recommend trying to keep your forearms parallel to the ground.

If you perform the shoulder W exercise with thumbs back and keep your forearms parallel to the ground (and thus don’t form a “W”) I feel that you are really missing out on the scapula retraction and more importantly, the scapular posterior tilt that you achieve when forming a “W.” Give it a whirl, and you’ll see what I mean.

12 Responses

  1. This design is spectacular! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  2. What i don’t understood is actually how you are no longer actually a lot
    more neatly-appreciated than you might be right now. You’re very
    intelligent. You know therefore considerably when it comes to
    this subject, made me in my opinion imagine it from
    a lot of various angles. Its like women and men don’t seem
    to be fascinated unless it is one thing to accomplish with Girl gaga!
    Your own stuffs outstanding. All the time deal with it up!

  3. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the images on this blog loading?

    I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  4. WOW just what I was looking for. Came here
    by searching for camera wifi gia si

  5. Our latest addition to the limousine fleet is the 7 passenger Cadillac Escalade.

    So, you are not required to move from one dealer to another for ideal model.
    Go to the search tool and search for keyword like used cars in Bangalore, pre owned cars and second hand cars in Bangalore.

  6. Hello, just wanted to tell you, I liked this article.

    It was helpful. Keep on posting!

  7. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful
    & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid
    others like you aided me.

  8. Very shortly this website will be famous among all blog users, due to it’s
    good posts

  9. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything. However think about if you added some great images or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with images and videos, this website could
    undeniably be one of the best in its niche.
    Fantastic blog!

  10. These are genuinely fantastic ideas in regarding blogging.
    You have touched some fastidious factors here. Any way keep up wrinting.

  11. Hi I am so glad I found your webpage, I really found you by mistake,
    while I was browsing on Bing for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just
    like to say many thanks for a remarkable post and a all round entertaining
    blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up
    the excellent b.

Leave a comment