Wall Slides

Wall Slides – It’s time to learn how to complete a wall film project. Shoulder mobility is important in all activities in life, but especially in upper body movements. In all movements above shoulder level, you must move the shoulder blade and arm to move smoothly and cleanly – to maintain and prevent injury. If there is no fixed and movable form, ILLUSTRATION is entered. Try this great exercise to build and maintain great range of motion and strength in your shoulders. Here’s how to complete a film wall project.

With the wall apart (one leg in front of the other), raise your elbows to 90 degrees – press against the wall (with your hands). Keeping your core engaged, curl your arms up and down the wall. If you can, squeeze your shoulder blades together and raise your arms a few inches away from the wall.

Wall Slides

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Healthy shoulder function requires scapular stability, arm flexibility, and fine motor control when moving the arm. Wall slides train the muscles around the scapula for mobility and stability – controlling the position of the scapula when the arm moves.

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Flexion of the front wall trains the stability of the scapula – upward rotation. W/Y wall slide trains static scapula for abduction and depression.

Movements like shoulder presses, pencil pushes, jerks, and pulls require upward rotation — the arms are above the head and shoulders. Movements like overhead squats and squats require abduction and deceleration – where the arms are abducted at a wide angle (to the side). All upper positions should face up to support shoulder rotation.

Upward rotation refers to the movement of the scapula and joint during shoulder rotation. This 3-to-1 ratio of arm to scapula movement is called the scapulo-humeral rhythm—the scapula rotates upward 60 degrees, while the shoulder rotates 120 degrees. If the scapula is fixed or cannot move in coordination with the arm – the shoulder will drop.

Upward rotation weakness is shoulder weakness—physical therapist Shirley Sahrman calls this pattern “downward rotation syndrome.”

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“Downward rotation syndrome” is an imbalance in which the downward rotators (levator scapula, pec-minor, rhomboid) are tight/too strong and the upward rotators (serratus anterior, lower/upper trapezius) are weak/inhibited.

Stretch the lower extensors to restore upward rotation, strengthen the upper extensors (scapular thrust, half-face pull, hamstring), and practice proper shoulder motor control (wall sliding).

Start with your hands touching the wall, shoulder width apart. The elbows are bent at ninety degrees, and the arms are bent at the elbows. Put your hands on the wall – pull your arms up and out – don’t move your shoulders. Controlling the lower scapula and lower trapezius will help prevent the shoulder from rolling during the movement.

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I use the term ‘bring the scapula down’ – not implying a rigid position – to remove the scapula during rotation (see image). Focusing on insertion of the lower trapezius while rotating the scapula laterally creates this base of stability.

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At the top of the movement – extend your arms and pull them back 2 inches to remove shoulder bags (Part B). The upper trapezius engages for a short upward jump while pulling the arms away from the wall. Remember – keep your shoulders down as your arms slide up and out (part A), before adding your top leg to pull your arms back (part B).

This movement is similar to the overhead squat, where a shoe is used at the top of the lift to increase upward rotation – the scapula is controlled by the lower trapezius. In this period, upper and lateral activation of the trapezius should be practiced – the primary focus is on upward rotation without raising the shoulders (phase A of the exercise).

After pulling your hands off the wall (part B), return your hands to the wall and then lower yourself to the starting position – making contact with the wall (part C).

Pull-ups are another way to focus on upward rotation of the scapula. The scapula begins to rotate upward during the hang and returns to a neutral position (downward rotation) as you move toward the bar. The advantage of the front wall slider is that it starts in a neutral position and moves upwards.

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While the anterior wall slider trains upward rotation, the W/Y slider trains scapular abduction and flexion. If you move your arms from the position of extended shoulders to the position above your head – you will feel a slight change in the position of the shoulder blades. Although the shoulder press requires a strong movement of the scapula during shoulder extension, the scapula should be positioned above the vertical. The W/Y Wall Slide trains the scapula through a range of motion for the arms.

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“The key to the hit slide (W/Y) is to keep the shoulder blades back as the glenohumeral joint tries to move the arms up. They are the ‘air guitar’ of the upper press. Most people try this exercise and start sitting in the lower trap / rhomboid. Shoulders down and back. The key is to slide your forearms into the wall as you hold them.” – Mike Boyle

The wall squat arm depression involves anterior stabilization with thoracic extension and shoulder flexion. The front brace keeps the hips neutral and prevents the chest from sagging during the lift. Extending the lower back and allowing the ribcage to rise with pressure on the shoulders removes the base—the stability of the hips and core—to keep the scapula in place.

This movement includes upper and lower body movements: lowering the hips and raising the arms while pressing the lower back against the wall. Note your breathing as you repeat – try to breathe into the sides of your lower ribs. You can also try the collar wall bug (see here) to improve frontal stability, diaphragmatic breathing and lower rib position.

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Tags: downward rotation exercise, front slide exercise, upward rotation, shoulder blade slide, Shirley Sahrman, shoulder flexibility, shoulder exercises, T4-wall slide

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