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Rhomboid and Middle Back Strengthening

Exercise for strengthening the rhomboids will help to provide a strong upper back posture while actively stretching the tight muscles of the chest and shoulders.


 This exercise is helpful for training both mobility of the shoulders and proper hand and arm positions. A great time to add this to your program is at the beginning warm up segment with a forward walking pattern. In doing so, the shoulders are warmed up yet the muscles are not exhausted or fully engaged.  A serve a platter joint action will open up the shoulders, assist forward walking patterns and set the shoulder ups (most people are leaning forward when they come to the pool).

Start the exercise with the hands in front of the body palms facing up. Be sure to go into neutral working positions to submerge and protect the shoulders during the horizontal abduction movement of the shoulders. Slice the hand back in a modified upright breast stroke movement then slow down and return to the start position and repeat traveling across t he pool.  Telling your students to hold something on their palms and then serve a platter will help them to externally rotate the shoulders to maintain an open shoulder posture.

Often with water exercise people are prone to internal rotation as they are accustomed to a swimming like  movement such as a traditional breast stroke pull. Training in this shoulder alignment will help them to avoid internal shoulder rotation or thumbs down breast stroke which will 100% impinge and aggravate the shoulders. The goal of an exercise program is to improve the clients posture so as instructors we must take the time to teach the joint mechanics of the arms to facilitate proper alignment and posture of the shoulders and upper back.



Another important exercise is the upright breast stroke. Start with the arms in front of the body ( or slightly horizontally adducted or crossed). Pull the arms open as if opening a door with the thumbs up. Feel the middle back musculature squeeze as the scapulae adduct with the pulling action. Again with all upper body muscular strengthening, be sure to keep the shoulders joint submerged so that the hydrostatic pressure of the water places traction on the joint and thereby does not wear and tear the shoulders. This is one of the best benefits of water training - so utilize the water for added protection and resistance. On land,  gravity places downward stress on all joints so being able to submerge the joint is a huge benefit to any muscular training exercise.


To progress this exercise add a lower body rock movement. Start with the arms in front of the body when the weight is on the front leg. Be sure when the weight is transferred to the back leg the arms pull powerfully back.  That way the movement will "fall" into the water to add more range of motion as well as downward resistance with the upright breast stroke movement. If this action is performed incorrectly - the client may hyperextend their spine with pulling arms back when weight is front OR they may pull arms back when weight is on front foot and push their face into the water. Therefore, this exercise technique should be emphasized such that the weight is on the front leg when the arms are in front and the weight is on the back leg when the weight transfers back.


All of the above exercises may be progressed with flex paddles. Realize that technique and coordination should be achieved prior to adding equipment. Also, realize not everyone in a class requires equipment. The flex paddles are an excellent piece of water equipment because the vents may be opened, slightly closed or closed on either side. Also the client has several ways to hold the paddles. These may be held north /south (lengthways) or east/west (perpendicular to the ground). The flex paddles are part of our WP J Membership gift program and if you don't know all the ways to utilize the paddle then the DVD040 Resistive Paddles Program will give you infinite ideas on progressing a program and safe use of the flex paddles.

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