Banded Rows for Healthy Shoulders

In case you missed How to Build Healthy Shoulders in Functional Fitness, I suggest you go give it a read. This is a quick post today to shed some light on how something as simple as band pulling will positively impact your shoulder health over time.

As a refresher, the scapulae can do the following:

  • Elevation – ie, shrugging in weightlifting pulls. Upper Traps and Levator Scapulae.
  • Depression – the opposite pattern, a Farmer Walk. Lower Traps.
  • Retraction – squeezing the scapulae inward at the end of any row. Middle Traps and Rhomboids.
  • Protraction – The opposite pattern, rolling forward at the start of a row with the elbow extended. Serratus Anterior.
  • Upward Rotation – Arms moving overhead, lockout of a jerk. Upper and Middle Traps.
  • Downward Rotation – The opposite pattern, pulling the chest to the bar in a pull-up. Rhomboids and Lower Traps.

The reason we like banded rows of different angles is to really target protraction, retraction, upward rotation, and downward rotation. Yes, any form of row will technically protract and retract, but let’s call a spade a spade. Most people go too heavy and aren’t interested. So, we find the best way around that is to put banded pulls into workouts. Hard to focus on any other aspect of it other than shoulder health.

What generally happens to a lot of athletes over time is their Upper Traps (the “show traps”) end up getting over worked and the end result is that they don’t know how to turn off. They want to overpower every movement, bully the other scapular muscles out of the way and constantly be the star.

Over time, this can be detrimental on shoulder health, especially if you wish to participate in the overhead game.

A way to help that is with targeted banded rows and pulls.

Horizontal Rows

The main aim here is to retract the scapulae when the elbows flex (pictured below) and to slightly protract when the elbows extend. This is done by rolling the shoulder forward in this position, ever so slightly. A few keys to make sure your rows are sound. “Row Low” is a cue I give over and over again. The thumbs should be well below the chest with the forearm nearly parallel to the ground (like Steve below).

This will ensure we don’t over-activate the upper traps, as well as create a very good retraction and targeting of the Middle Traps and Rhomboids.

Band Rows and Pulls for Healthier Shoulders

Vertical Pulling

These  focus on isolating movement initiated at the scapulae, and when we manipulate the angle of the band we see different benefit. A standard horizontal row is excellent for protraction and retraction. A more vertical row where the band is hanging will create an angle that targets upward and downward rotation (as you can see P360 athlete, Abby, below).

Hope this was helpful.

Dave Thomas Performance360 Coach Trainer-Dave Thomas

PS. Coaches, our FCC certification will be open to the public for the first time in our gym’s history this November. For more information, and how to apply for this knowledge filled 3-day weekend, visit the official FCC page.



Suggested Reading:

How to Build Healthy Shoulders in Functional Fitness