November 3, 2022
Author: Shelby
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  • Star Exercise of the Week: Prone Series

This exercises series involves three separate but complimentary motions. It targets multiple muscle groups that surround the scapula, or shoulder blade, and glenohumeral joint, or shoulder joint, itself. 

Some of the muscle groups that will be activated include the following: 

  • Lower trapezius
  • Middle trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Deltoids
  • The part of the biceps that connects to the shoulder joint
  • Coracobrachialis

The term prone means that you’ll be laying on your stomach while performing these arms motions.

You can initially try this exercise series with no added weight or resistance to get comfortable with the motions. After this, if you want to add a little more of a challenge, you can use a light free weight (1-2# initially).


Step 1: Starting Position:

  • You can choose to lay on your bed or couch, but the bed may be a better choice due to its higher height (you’ll see what I mean in a minute).
  • You’ll be laying on your stomach on one side of the bed at a time.
  • You need to be at the edge of the bed because the working arm will be dangling off the edge of the bed. 
  • The opposite arm can be flexed in front of you so that your forehead can rest on the forearm (this will be more comfortable for the neck).

Step 2: Shoulder Flexion:

  • Engage the shoulder blade on the working arm side by squeezing it down and in.
  • With the thumb pointing forward and keeping the elbow straight, lift the arm forward and up.
  • Move as high as you can without hiking the shoulder or rotating your torso.
  • Hold for 2 seconds, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets. 


Step 3: Shoulder Abduction:

  • Continue to engage the shoulder blade on the working arm side, but this time focus more on squeezing the shoulder blade directly inward towards the opposite shoulder blade.
  • With the shoulder externally rotated so that the thumb is pointing out to the side, raise the arm out to the side and up towards the ceiling. 
  • Make sure to avoid compensations such as the torso rotating.
  • Hold for 2 seconds, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets.

Step 4: Shoulder Extension:

  • You guessed it… Keep the shoulder blade engaged! Squeeze it in a downward direction.
  • Lift the arm back and up just to the height of your torso.
  • Hold for 2 seconds, then lower back down to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets. 
  • This one is usually the easiest of the 3 motions.

That, my friends, is the prone series!

Tip: If your back is uncomfortable in this position, you can place a pillow under your stomach to better support the back. Also, you should not have any shoulder pain while doing this. If so, try modifying the height of your arm raise to keep a pain-free range.


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About the Author Shelby

Shelby Green is a Florida-licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), currently practicing at St. Anthony’s Resource Center Outpatient Rehabilitation in St. Petersburg, FL. Shelby received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of South Florida, followed by her DPT from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Shelby has 6 years clinical experience practicing in both the acute care and outpatient rehab settings. Specialties include orthopedics, with additional training in specific manual therapy techniques for pain management, as well as extensive training as a Certified Lymphedema Therapist.

Shelby is a Tampa, FL native, which is where she and her husband currently reside. Their favorite activities include spending time with family and anything outdoors, such as walking, bike riding, and going to the beach.

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