Is the Empty Can Test A Good Rehab Exercise?
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been seeing a few more shoulder injuries, all which have started for many different reasons. There have been falls, sports injuries and others which have been there for a long period of time. However, with some of the presentations there has been a common factor and that has been a particular exercise or rehab that has been prescribed.
After spending some time with the clients going through their medical history and working out actions that may aggravate or relieve their pain, we are able to come to a clinical impression, which gives us an ability to determine a personalised rehab plan to the shoulder joint. The shoulder can be a complicated joint as there are lots of different muscles which attach around the area and influence its movement.
While I don’t like to call out another practitioner or say that one exercise shouldn’t be performed, I do believe that there are exercises that are better for people so that we are to strengthen an area while limiting pain.
The empty can/ full can exercise involves taking your arms out to the side (abduction) on about a 45-degree angle and turning your thumbs down (pronation) or as if you are pouring a can out and then turning the can upwards (supination) this exercise is done with weights being held and repeating the pronation and supination action.
This exercise has been proven to target the supraspinatus muscle, which is one of the four rotator cuff muscles. When you pronate your wrist, we decrease the amount of space our shoulder joint has to move and this is one of the many reasons that people may get shoulder pain. So you can imagine that if you have been given this exercise from a healthcare practitioner and you are getting a sharp pain in the front of your shoulder, your desire to perform the exercise is not going to be very good. So how do we target the muscle without placing our shoulder in a painful position?
There are a number of different ways, but to keep it simple, standing external rotations and lateral raises, should be sufficient enough to train the muscles. Each person is different and require slightly different instructions or cues to help them feel the activation of a muscle, but as a general sense these 2 exercises can activate the muscle correctly without putting the shoulder into a position which may cause more impingement pain.
If you think that this could be beneficial for yourself, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the clinic
Written By: Brendan Ashman