Exercise of the Month: CAT Press for the Shoulder

The most common problem with painful shoulders or following a shoulder injury is the de-activation of major scapular stabilizer, the Serratus Anterior. This muscle is the prime mover of scapula PROTRACTION, the movement where the shoulder blade moves forward in movements such as during a bench press or during a punch in boxing. The common mis-conception is that the Pectoralis Major does this job, where is fact it doesn’t, as it is not attached to the shoulder blade (it’s attached to the arm). The serratus anterior also keeps the shoulder blade flat against the rib cage and helps to keep correct angulations of the shoulder joint socket.

Following pain and injury, the weakness or deactivation of this muscle can be seem from the back in the form of a ‘WINGING’ effect, and the person has trouble with arm elevation and pressing movements. The best low level closed kinetic chain exercise to start of with for the serratus anterior is the ‘CAT Press’. Closed kinetic chain exercises are where the hand is fixed during the movement and are the preferred type of exercise for early shoulder rehabilitation, as they provide compressive forces to the joint, rather than shearing forces with open chain exercises) and they work multiple muscle groups simultaneously rather than concentrating on just one, as many open-chain exercises do.


How to do the CAT Press:

In a 4 point position, with your ‘core’ switched on’. Start with keeping your elbows straight press down through your hands to push your upper body to the ceiling. DON’T arch your back – keep it flat. Slowly drop chest down to floor so your shoulder blades come together. Now push away again so they come apart again.

To increase the level of this exercise, add a theraband onto the effected shoulder and loop it around a pole. Now resist the pull of the band by keep your shoulder blade pulled down to your lower back.

If you start experiencing difficulty or pain with this exercise, consult your Total Rehab Physiotherapist straight away.

Look out for the second stage in this routine for the shoulder in next month’s news!