A couple days ago I received a couple new stretching and rehab product that I intend to use in my soon-to-be-opened training facility. It’s not any kind of heavy hitter strength and power development tool but it is something that will likely come in handy for some of the athletes I train. I work with quite a few multi-eventers as well as the occasional javelin thrower, pole vaulter and baseball player. What do these athletes have in common? A high likelihood of shoulder injury! And even if they don’t, shoulder mobility and strengthening are still important parts of training to maximize success. The extreme shoulder rotations observed in these movements combined with the fact that the shoulder joint is inherently the most unstable joint of the human body leads to a high frequency of injuries. This can be true even in the most technically efficient athlete using appropriate loading parameters. Add to this many of the athletes competing and excelling in these movement are predisposed to have unstable shoulders due to the very same increased mobility that allows them to succeed. Making matters worse, shoulder rehab is somewhat of a guessing games. The standard internal and external rotation exercises prescribed by PTs using therabands or light dumbbells seem to be almost as likely to aggravate the injury as make it better. With these points in mind, I’m always interested in finding a solution that can produce consistent results for increasing mobility in the shoulder joint while also enhancing strength in the extreme ranges of motion that we see in overhead throwing and hitting movements.
That’s where this new product comes in to play. It’s called the Rotater and I had heard good things about it from a colleague I trust. When I received the thing I have to say it’s not terribly impressive looking. It almost looks like one of the Back Buddy massage canes. It’s an L-shaped a piece of industrial grade plastic with a wide and thick velcro strap. There’s also a short bungee cord with a handle but that’s for strengthening movements. It’s use is not super intuitive at first. I had to look at the pictures but when I did I was actually quite impressed with what you could do with it. Unlike most of the shoulder stretching and strengthening variations for internal and external rotation that are used in shoulder rehab / prehab, the ones that the Rotater places the athlete in are much less awkward on the shoulder joint because it helps to stabilize the elbow in the appropriate position, limits movement to the shoulder joint while still permitting enough play to at the elbow joint to ensure the stretching and strengthening isn’t turned in to something robotic. Once you learn the exercises and movements it’s pretty easy to get going. My only complaint so far is that the velcro strap is a little difficult to put on by yourself in the appropriate position with respect to the device and appropriate tightness to secure the wrist. While I haven’t had it long enough to make a review on long-term rehab and training benefits of the device, I think it’s one of the few products I think could be valuable for increasing the performance and decreasing the likelihood of injury in athletes that need to do high velocity, ballistic overhead movements.
Disclaimer: The Rotater was sent to me for review and testing but they did not request any type of review or endorsement in return. I only wrote this review because I thought it might be useful for some of the overhead athletes on the site.