Movement Health and pulling straps

Posted on November 7, 2016 by Movement Health in ,
Lady doing, Pulling straps on Pilates reformer

As an Exercise Physiologist I’m required to stay up-to-date with the appropriate scientific literature and use this to apply best practice treatment for clients. A piece of literature I find myself using a lot when working with shoulders (and particularly the shoulder blades) was undertaken by Cools et al. (2007). The goal of this study was to find the best exercises for activation of the middle and lower Trapezius muscles, these muscles are located in the mid-back region and when they’re weak can contribute to compromised upper body movements and potential pain or injury. By measuring electro-activity of these muscles whilst performing a variety of exercises the researchers were able to finalise the best four exercises for middle/lower Trapezius activation. Of these four exercises the one titled ‘Prone extension’ looks very familiar; this exercise is performed lying face down and involves lifting  a light weight up by your side (Figure 1. below) and Pilates teachers/students would see the similarity with the reformer exercise ‘Pulling straps’ (Figure 2. below). So next time you’re doing Pulling straps in Pilates class know you’re doing one of the best available exercises for middle Trapezius activation and positively affecting movement of your upper body/shoulders/shoulder blades.

Thanks for reading, Warwick..

Cools, A.M., Dewitte, V., Lanszweert, F., Notebaert, D., Roets, A., Soetens, B., Cagnie, B., & Wityrouw, E.E. (2007). Rehabilitation of scapular muscle balance: which exercises to prescribe? The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 35(10), 1744-1751.

*Disclaimer, this is a discussion and does not represent an exercise prescription, for exercise or injury advice seek an appropriately trained health professional.