The role of the Scapula
Try it now! Can you ‘pinch’ your shoulder blades together without feeling stress through your upper traps?
Improving the function of the ‘scaps’ is too often neglected in general resistance programs, mainly due to little knowledge on their purpose or importance.
We are seeing individuals become increasingly kyphotic (forward rounding of shoulders) which stretches out and inhibits these stabilising muscles most people so desperately need to active and strengthen. So now, many people have an inability to ‘pinch’ the scaps, or properly ‘set’ them in a correct anatomical position. As a consequence, the upper traps tend to take over many movements and become quite tight – and in worsened cases, cause headaches and increased stress levels.
Weakness of the scapular stabilisers results in:
• Increased stress through the anterior capsular structures of the shoulder
• Increased possibility of rotator cuff injury
• Decrease shoulder complex performance
• Reduced range of movement
In an ideal world the scapulae provide a stable base for which glenohumeral (shoulder) mobility can occur – think of your shoulder joint as if it were sitting on top of your scapula. Stability through the scapulothoracic area depends greatly on the surrounding musculature and an individual’s ability to co-ordinate and activate it. Since it is the most susceptible joint in the human body to injury, it’ll be worth your time focussing on the area!
Main muscle groups which control the scaps:
1. Serratus anterior
3. Upper, middle & lower trapezius
1. Release your upper traps through massage, SMR or even acupuncture
2. When completing any pulling exercise, learn to fully stretch out, then pull the scaps into position before bending your elbows
3. Complete accessory work to activate serratus, rhomboids & middle, lower traps before pulling and ‘back’ exercises