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Shoulder Stabilization Exercises With The Water Tube

I recently learned some new shoulder stabilization exercises from Chris Melton who is the creator and owner of “The Rotater.” The exercises are similar to using a kettlebell but they utilize a tube filled with water instead. The reciprocal wave motion of the water in the tube requires dynamic stabilization at the shoulder. The rotator cuff has to fire in order to hold your arm in place. I’ve tried it on myself and with patients at our Physical Therapy clinic in North Kingstown, RI. It works really well for cuff and serratus activation. I like it so much I wanted to share it with you all. Here is how I built mine and some exercises that I use it for.


Everything you need can be purchased at your local hardware store. I will put this quick warning in place. It looks like you are trying to build a bomb, so act cool. Here is a list of what you will need:

1. 2ft section of 3in PVC pipe
2. 2 end caps
3. Pipe Primer and Cement
4. Metal Handle
5. 2 Hose Clamps
6. 1 Roll of Red Construction Two Sided Tape

Materials needed to build water tube

The first thing you want to do is cement one of the end caps to one end of the 2ft pipe. Use a gallon jug to measure out the water you will be putting in. I used about 1/2. I didn’t want my tube to be too heavy because I will be using it in rehab (1 gallon of H2O = 8lbs). If I put the whole gallon in it might have been too heavy to use for most of my patients. Before you add the water prime the other end of the tube and the cap. Add the water and then put the end cap on. I let this sit for about an hour to allow the cement to set up. The instructions say you only need about 5 minutes but I didn’t trust that.

Water Tube with one end sealed Water Tube sealed and filled with water

Adding the handle is easy. Cut two pieces of the tape to match the ends of the handle where it will attach to the tube. Place the handle in the middle of the tube on the tape and clamp down using the hose clamps. Tighten the clamps down as far as you can to make sure the handle isn’t going to come unattached. You can choose to cut the ends of the hose clamp if you would like. I chose to tape them down with electrical tape because I didn’t want to leave sharp edges that people could cut their hands on (not looking for law suits).

Finished product with handle attached I like my new toy

Now that you have the Water Tube, what do you do with it? Here are some great shoulder stabilization.exercises that I like to use in the clinic for shoulder rehabilitation.


Serratus Punch Hold – Lie on your back with your arm in the air at a 120 degree angle. Press your hand up towards the ceiling and hold. Hold for 15-20 seconds and perform 10 repetitions. You can also add a twisting motion at your hand/forearm to increase the difficulty.

Shoulder at 120 degrees from the ground

Side Lying Arm Holds – Lie on your side with your hand towards the ceiling. If this is too easy, lightly move your hand back and forth to agitate the water. This will require additional stabilization. Hold for 15-20 seconds and perform 10 repetitions. You can also add a twisting motion at your hand/forearm to increase the difficulty.

Knees can be bent or straight

There are a ton more exercises that you can do with this piece of equipment. These will get you started though. If you have any questions please contact me at our North Kingstown, RI physical therapy clinic. If you have pain do not perform the exercise and consult with your local Physical Therapist. Thank you for reading. Please comment and share below.

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Ian Manning graduated with his Masters degree in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University in 2004. Ian has always worked with orthopedic based injuries. Starting in school with his co-op/clinical rotations leading into his professional career as a PT. He is constantly working to continue his education through course work and staying current with research. Ian is certified through the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) to treat golf related injuries and to improve golf performance. Please visit our Golf Performance and Rehabilitation section for more information.

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