Above you can see the most basic example of external rotation of the arms in the first photo the model has the hands alongside her body her thumbs pointing away from her body. (in internal rotation the thumbs would point in see below) In the second photo the model has kept the external rotation of the arms and taken her arms up overhead. Several amazing things are happening here.
Proper Alignment When Taking the Arms Overhead in External Rotation
- You can see that her shoulder blades are firmly on her upper back and not riding up by her ears.
- Her shoulder blades are spreading apart from one another. This action helps to engage Serratus Anterior. (Serratus Anterior is the MVP when it comes to inversions!)
- The armpits are hollowed out and her arms are stick straight. Her triceps are firm and wrapping forward towards her front body and her biceps and inner shoulders are moving towards her back body.
- Her tailbone is drawn down towards her heels and is neither squeezing nor sticking out too far.
Work your External Rotation in Plank, Downward Dog and Cat/Cow Poses.
- You can work external rotation of your arms in many poses but in particular Cat/Cow, Plank and Down Dog. When your shoulders are in true external rotation it feels as if you are hollowing out your armpits. Imagine you had to hold a tennis ball under each armpit and you will get the feeling I’m talking about.
Need Still Further Convincing that Externally Rotating Your Arms is Important?
- When external rotation is not present when taking the arms overhead it can cause impingement syndrome. (Head of arm bone crashing into the acromion process.) Ouch!
- Feel It: Notice how different it feels to take the arms overhead with the arm bones rolled in (internal rotation palms facing back shoulders rolled forward) vs. rotated out (external rotation palms facing forward shoulders rolled back).