Move Better Monday: Fix Your Scaps (Part I)

Following up last week's Move Better Monday installment of shoulder CARs, today I'd like to touch on the first part of effectively using your scaps to prevent upper extremity issues.

Learning how to move your scapula (shoulder blade) properly could be rather tricky.  The scap should be able to move through full upward rotation, retraction, protraction, elevation, and depression. Failure to execute exercises like push-ups and rows correctly and overall lack of movement are two major factors that elicit poor scapular function.

Poor positioning of the shoulder blade can be caused by a handful of movement issues, but today I'd like to touch specifically on anterior tilt

Of course, the shoulder blade should be able to move through anterior and posterior tilt with ease. However, we have a tendency of being "stuck" in anterior tilt due to the rounded shoulder posture we present while sitting. Before even thinking of loading an overhead position with this issue present, it's extremely important to teach the scapula how to start in a better position.

Keep in mind there's a ton of variables that come into play with scapular anterior tilt. Thoracic spine alignment, anterior core control, and cervical/pelvic positioning are all factors that could effect the way to scap sits on the rib cage. Today's Move Better Monday exercises are dedicated towards addressing the position of your shoulder blades through two of the more common drills I prescribe, the prone trap raise and and scapular PAILs/RAILs off a stability ball.

By starting in a better static position with both the stability ball and broomstick, we're in a more advantageous posture to feel the posterior muscles of the scap work effectively. It's important to note that with both exercises, I'm trying to avoid extension through the lower back as much as possible. Maintaining solid alignment throughout the torso prevents compensation of spinal movement rather than true scapular movement. Once we get the hang of where to feel this "movement", I'll then progress to the more dynamic prone trap raise and begin to load it with light weight plates when proficient.

The next step of the equation, which I'll break down next week, is scapular CARs. As I said earlier, it's important to be able to move the scap through it's full ranges of motion under control without compensation at the shoulder, elbow, or wrist. Until then, hammer the hell out of these!