By Tom Fontana, MSPT
Well, maybe not the weight of the world, but at least your weight!
For those with leg injuries, we spend a lot of time working on tasks involving one-legged balance. Whether due to the person’s injury or because it is the CAUSE of the person’s injury, people often have difficulty just standing on one leg, let alone standing on one leg while performing an additional activity. For those who have difficulty, you quickly realize you need quite a bit of strength to achieve the stability to maintain your balance. As good as this exercise is for your legs, the same principle applies for your arms.
Since we learned to walk upright, we don’t routinely bear weight through our arms, so we don’t often think of training our arms this way. But the same muscles that are active to stabilize you while you are bearing weight through your arms will also stabilize the shoulder joint as you are executing tasks with your arms. Whether you want to prevent shoulder problems or if you have a minor issue you want to see if you can rehab yourself, two of my favorites are the wall push up with a plus, and rolling a ball up and down a wall.
For the wall push up with a plus, stand arm’s length from a wall. Place your palms on the wall at shoulder height, shoulder-width apart. Use your arms to slowly lower your body toward the wall and then push yourself away. Once your elbows are straight, keep pushing yourself as far as you can from the wall. Perform a set of 10 to begin, increasing the repetitions or sets as you get used to the exercise. To make the exercise harder, stand further and further from the wall until you can then perform with your hands on a counter or heavy table instead of the wall, eventually moving to the floor.
The second exercise shares similarities with the first. Stand shoulder’s length from the wall as above. Place a ball (volleyball, child’s play ball, kickball, etc.) between your palm and the wall at shoulder height. While leaning on the ball, move the ball up and down, side to side and in clockwise and counterclockwise 10 times. As above, to make the exercise harder, stand further and further from the wall.