Starting Position: Lie on your side on a mat with both legs straight so that your hips and shoulders are stacked and vertical with the floor. Your spine and head should be aligned. Rest your head resting on the mat or upon a small pillow or rolled-up towel if necessary. Bend your top knee to create a 90-degree bend at both the hip and knee. Rest the inside of that knee on the mat or upon a raised surface (e.g. rolled-up towel, block, etc.). Reach both arms out directly in front you at chest level, stacking your hands one on top of the other.
Engage your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine in a neutral position and maintain this engagement throughout the exercise. Gently exhale. Slowly rotate your trunk and upper arm until your belly button faces the ceiling and your upper arm extends out to the other side, touching or slightly off the floor.
Avoid rotating your hips. If your upper thigh is sliding backward as you rotate, the hips are rotating. Placing a raised surface under the inside of the upper knee will help control this hip rotation. Do not allow the low back to arch. Keeping your abdominal muscles engaged will help prevent this.
Keep your shoulder blades pulled back and down throughout the exercise. Hold this position briefly, then bend the elbow of the lower arm so that the back of the arm is on the floor / mat, and the forearm is vertical to the floor. Reach the other arm toward the ceiling, but keep the shoulder blade down.
Gently exhale. Keeping your shoulder blades, trunk and hips stabilized, perform a series of push-pull movements with your arms:
(a) Press the lower arm upwards, extending the elbow without allowing the scapula to move forward
(b) Pull the upper arm downwards towards the chest, bending the elbow without allowing the scapula to move backwards.
Exercise Variation: The exercise intensity can be increased by using dumbbells.
To maximize the benefits of this exercise and reduce the potential for injury, it is important to stabilize the shoulder blades, trunk and hips and control movement at the shoulders. Follow the instructions provided carefully.