Scapular (shoulder blade) muscle balance and strength.

The Scapula is an incredibly mobile structure. The unfortunate trade-off is that it is naturally unstable. The bony anatomy demonstrates that the only bone connecting the whole of the arm and shoulder to the rest of the body is the collar bone. Pretty small bone considering its function! This just proves how important the muscles acting upon this are. Therefore, having good scapular strength, stability and control is crucial.

Just imagine the shoulder blade being the foundation for the arm. Like any foundation, it needs to have the ability to fix into a suitable position. Why? So that you can be more efficient and stronger with your arm. Let me give you an example: try writing your name on a piece of paper without resting your hand (or any part of your arm) on the paper/table. And then try it as you would normally do by resting the outer border of your hand on the paper. The latter is much easier and accurate (less effort is taken to do this). This is because you have created a point to fix onto. Your foundation.

So this foundation needs to be strong enough so that it doesn’t kick out of position when you lift something heavy. But it also needs to be positioned correctly so that it doesn’t create a dysfunction at the rotator cuff and impinge. If the position of the shoulder blade is too high because of the upper traps, then you will use less lower traps to anchor your shoulder blades. This will also encourage you to use your pecs to fix your shoulder blade down. This isn’t good because it creates an inefficient angle for your arm to work off and massively increases your risk of impingement/tear.

The scapula will naturally move as you require more movement at the shoulder. This can still be stable and controlled at the same time. Just do a shoulder press movement: as your elbow lifts up above the shoulder, the shoulder blade has moved with this. The important part is making sure it doesn’t move sooner than it needs to, it’s angle of movement is appropriate, and it’s controlled. This is scapular rhythm.

More to follow soon!

SJ

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