Starting Position: Lie on your side on a mat with both legs extended so that your hips and shoulder are aligned vertically with the floor and your spine and head are in alignment (head resting on the mat or upon a small pillow or rolled-up towel). Bend your upper leg to create a 90-degree bend at both the hip and knee, resting the inside of that knee upon the mat or upon a raised platform, (e.g., rolled-up towel, block, etc.). Extend both arms out directly in front you at chest level, overlapping your fingers together.
Stiffen (“brace”) your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine in a neutral position and maintain this throughout the exercise. Gently exhale and slowly rotate your trunk and upper arm until your belly button faces the ceiling and your upper arm extends out to the side, either touching or being elevated slightly above the floor.
Attempt to avoid any rotation of your hips, evidenced by your upper thigh sliding backwards as you rotate. Placement of a raised platform under the inside of the upper knee will help control this hip rotation. Additionally, avoid any arching in your low back that may accompany the rotation. Stiffening (“bracing”) your abdominal muscles will help prevent this.
Depress and retract your scapulae (pull shoulders back and down) without moving your trunk and attempt to hold this position throughout the exercise. Hold this position briefly, then flex (bend) the elbow of the lower arm so that the back of the arm rests against the floor / mat, while the forearm is aligned vertically to the floor. Extend the other arm vertically towards the ceiling, but do not allow the scapula to move (i.e., hold it in the depressed and retracted position).
Gently exhale and while stabilizing your scapulae (shoulder blades), trunk and hips, perform a series of push-pull movements with your arms:
(a) Press the lower arm upwards, extending the elbow without allowing the scapula to move forward
(b) Pull the upper arm downwards towards the chest, flexing (bending) the elbow without allowing the scapula to move backwards.
Exercise Variation: The exercise intensity can be increased by using dumbbells.
To maximize the benefits of this exercise and reduce the potential for injury, it is often important to stabilize the scapulae, trunk and hips and control movement at the shoulders. Follow the instructions provided carefully.