An essential component of any home exercise program or regime should be an upper body pulling movement. Why is this a key component of our home exercise program? The musculature we recruit when performing these movements surrounds our upper back, shoulder blades and elbow flexors and assists in improving static and dynamic posture. Additionally, pulling movements are part of everyday life. The musculature you recruit when performing a pulling movement is the same as when you pick your child up off the ground, grab a heavy pot off the stove or pick up the wheel barrow.
Important cues and points to remember:
Upper body pulling movements can be broken down into two specific movements:
1. Horizontal pulls – when we pull something from in front of us towards our body
2. Vertical pulls – when we pull something above us towards our body
For the purpose of this article we will focus on horizontal pulling (rowing) movements due to the fact they are more specific to our everyday life and the musculature recruited has a significant role in posture.
There are two main cues we use when prescribing horizontal pulling movements:
1. Shoulders down and back or “keep your shoulders away from your ears”
· When performing a horizontal pull or rowing movement you should be aiming to draw your shoulders (specifically your shoulder blades) down. This is to avoid your shoulders coming up and recruiting musculature of the neck.
2. Lead with your elbows not your hands
· As mentioned above we are trying to recruit the musculature of the upper back; however we will get assistance from the muscles in our arms. When rowing the goal of the movement is to drive your elbows to the back of the room. This assists in reducing the amount you bend your elbow and will ultimately increase the workload on the muscles in your back.