This particular Functionally Fit feature is second in a series of exercises you can use to maximize shoulder functionality and health. Visit our archives and continue to check out our E-News to view the entire series as well as all Functionally Fit exercises. This week features the modified dumbbell lateral raise.



Stand with slightly bent knees and a taut abdomen (maintaining a slight forward lean) with the dumbbells in front of the body. Slowly raise the dumbbells until the arms are parallel to the floor, keeping the elbows bent approximately 30 degrees throughout the motion.


Visible knee, hip and/or lumbar extension indicates the weight is too heavy.



Lateral raises are a popular exercise that often leads to shoulder problems due to bad form and using too much weight. I advocate performing the exercise in the scapular plane (30-45 degrees forward from the plane of the body) to reduce rotator cuff compression and strain. Keep in mind: A straight arm produces a long lever arm that may increase strain on the cuff upwards of 90% of body weight. In the scapular plane, the exercise is still effective in targeting the middle deltoids.


Additional Notes

Repetitive heavy loading in the plane of the body will likely lead to rotator cuff impingement over time. You must also use caution with cables and bands as the resistance is not uniform throughout the motion and may pose a mechanical disadvantage based upon the angle and level of resistance. Keeping the raises at or below shoulder height further reduces the risk of shoulder impingement.