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Wall-walking can gently work shoulder abduction.
Adam Gault/Digital Vision/Getty Images
The inching-up-the-wall or wall-walking exercise is used to restore and improve your shoulder's range of motion. The exercise is typically employed in a rehabilitative setting in which patients suffer from a loss of shoulder motion from various conditions, such as frozen shoulder, impaired rotator cuff or post-surgery stiffness. For example, individuals recovering from breast cancer perform wall-walking exercises to regain shoulder joint mobility.
Mimic a Spider
As a highly flexible ball-in-socket joint, the shoulder can take a beating in numerous sports activities, such as tennis, basketball, baseball or swimming. Whether you're employing your shoulders in repetitive movements, which can risk overuse injury, or using your shoulders to power and throw balls at high velocity, these joints can take on considerable stress. The wall-walking exercise in which you inch your fingertips up a wall like a spider can help to improve either shoulder flexion or shoulder abduction. The exercise can improve the stability and mobility of your shoulder joints with a gentle dynamic and stretching movement. If you're in a rehabilitative situation, performing the exercise three times a day can help to condition your shoulders.
A Forward Hail
If you face a wall with arms extended in front of you and walk your fingers up the wall, you can work on shoulder flexion. Stand facing the wall an arm's length away. Extend one or both arms in front of you and place your fingertips on the wall at shoulder level. Slowly inch your fingertips up the wall, keeping your shoulder relaxed and down. Hold the peak position for 15 to 30 seconds and then return to starting position. Perform two to four reps, trying to increase the height of your reach on each successive rep.
Wing to the Side
By performing the exercise from a sideways stance in which your arm extends laterally, you'll shift the focus of wall walking to shoulder abduction. Begin by standing sideways about an arm's length from a wall. Your right side should be closer to the wall. Position your feet shoulder-width apart with knees slightly bent. Extend your right arm to your right and about 30 degrees forward, maintaining that angle throughout the exercise. Place your fingertips on the wall. Inch your fingers up the wall as high as possible, using a spider-like movement and keeping your shoulders down and retracted. Hold the top of the range of movement for a count of 15 to 20. Return to starting position, inching your fingertips back down the wall. Perform two to four reps, incrementally increasing the height of your reach on each rep. To move your arm higher, you may need to edge closer to the wall. Repeat the exercise with your left arm.
Variation with Wrists
A variation in which you use your wrists with arms extended in front of you will activate the infraspinitus, a rotator cuff muscle, and the teres major, a shoulder blade muscle. Athletes with shoulder injuries can use this variation to recover mobility, according to "The Athlete's Shoulder" by James Andrews and Kevin Will. You have to stand close enough to the wall to be able to place the fronts of your wrists on the wall with arms slightly bent. Your elbows should align with your wrists. As you walk your wrists up the wall, your shoulders will externally rotate throughout the range of movement. Only reach your wrists to eye level and then return to starting position. Perform five to 10 reps for three sets.