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Modifying the Seated Row and Lat Pull Down For Those Individuals With Shoulder Complaints

Horizontal and vertical pulling movements often form part of the exercise prescription program for those individuals suffering from shoulder complaints to help them return to the sport or activity that they love doing.  Common horizontal pulling movements include the seated row, chest supported row, horizontal bodyweight row and single arm dumbbell row.  Common vertical pulling movements include the lat pull down, single arm cable pull down and chin up.  When prescribing these for individuals with shoulder complaints, it is especially important to provide them with technique guidance so that they can learn to engage the scapular correctly, maintain appropriate trunk positioning and then pull the bar with the appropriate upper limb position. 

Common mistakes in horizontal pulling movements include:

  • Using excess weight and using momentum to pull the bar through not only the shoulder and upper limb, but also the back.
  • Failing to retract and downwardly rotate the scapular on the thoracic spine to create a stable base.  Often we will see shrugging in the shoulders and over activation of the trapezius and levator scapulae muscles.
  • Failure to pull through with the elbows in an appropriate line.  For those with shoulder complaints I will often have them focus on pulling through the elbows and keeping their elbows relatively close to the body. 

Common mistakes in vertical pulling movements include:

  • Using excess weight as with the horizontal row and using momentum and the whole body to pull the bar in a lat pull down, rather than creating a stable base through the scapular on the thoracics.
  • Pulling the bar behind the neck which could increase ones risk of developing neck pain.
  • Failure to pull through the elbows with an appropriate line. 

From a clinical perspective my aim is to build and engrain great technique and then build from here once the individual has shown proficiency with the exercise.

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.  At Principle Four Osteopathy we have an interest in strength and conditioning, exercise prescription and rehabilitation.  Services currently offered at our clinics include:  Osteopathy, Functional Movement Screening, Clinical Pilates, Strength and Conditioning Technique Assessments, Exercise Prescription and Rehabilitation consultations.

Principle Four Osteopathy is located across two locations within Melbourne.  Our clinics are located in the Melbourne City CBD near the corner of Little Bourke St and Elizabeth St as well as Melbourne Docklands on Bourke St. 

Find out more about our clinic or book an appointment at www.principlefourosteopathy.com.