Quick EMG Review: Training the rotator cuff trains the scapulothoracic muscles

I had a discussion with a Physio friend of mine about a blog he wrote championing performing scapular stability exercises before rotator cuff exercises.  Because I am bit of a picky bitch I immediately thought that while I can see the clinical rationale for it I don't think the muscles actually do this in practice and thus we had a respectable difference of opinion.  From some old EMG reviews I knew that some of the best exercises to train the lower traps (with out upper trap activity) were actually lame old rotator cuff exercises.  A couple of  years ago I made a few graphics that illustrated this (prompted by a similar discussion on Mike Reinold's blog). Below you will see that shoulder External Rotation (both at 90 degrees and at 0 degrees) are great scapulothoracic exercises.  So while, Jesse might have great success with training scapula before he trains the rotator cuff the explanation for this can probably be explained million other ways then the mechanistic idea that there is some deficit in scapulothoracic function that needs correcting.

Anyways, here are the pictures.  Please feel free to download them and use them in any patient education or other blog posts as you see fit.

1-full-can-with-numbers 1-prone-ER-at-90-degrees-down-with-numbers 1-prone-horizonal-abduction-at-130-degrees-unilateral 1-prone-horizontal-abduction-unilateral-at-90-degrees 1-sidelying-shoulder-IR