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  • Writer's pictureRobin R Varghese, PT.

"Scapular Stabilization Exercises"-2

To know in detail about scapular stabilization, kindly check our previos blog scapular stability and its importance . In this setion we intend to introduce you to a few scapular stabilization exercises. We advise you not to try these exercises on your own as a wrong technique can cause you much harm than any good. Your physical therapist must educate you and you must perform them under his/her supervision until you are ready to be on your own. We also suggest that you be in touch with your physical therapist for the progression of all theswe exercises.

  • For maximal scapular muscle activationcapular stabilization exercises must include both static and dynamic exercises.

  • For maximum muscle activation, muscles should be trained in functional patterns (sport or activity specific patterns) instead of isolated patterns.

  • It is important not to forget to train the eccentric phase and endurance of the muscles.

  • Scapular instability has been linked to around 68% of rotator cuff problems, 100% of shoulder joint instability problems and is a contributing factor in most shoulder injuries. This makes scapular stabilization exercises a really important part of shoulder rehab, but they are sadly often overlooked.

1.   Scapular setting exercises help the scapula to be set in the right position so that the stabilization exercises will be effective. This helps to build the strength and position of the lower trapezius so that they hold the scapula in the right position and right angle  whenever the arms move.

Eg. Scapula squeeze exercise

  • Lie on your stomach with a rolled up towel underneath your forehead, both arms down by your sides, palms facing in

  • Gently draw your shoulder blades back towards your spine, and down towards your waist. As you do this, you should feel the front of your shoulders lifting up off the bed

  • Once you can happily do the movement, hold that position for a few seconds and then relax.

  • Hold the position for 30 seconds and do 4 repetitions.

2.   Scapular Retraction exercises

Eg. a) Scapular Squeeze with arm lift

      b) Scapular Retraction “W” position

      c) Scapular Retraction “Y” position

Scapular squeeze with arm lift

  • Lie on your back, head resting on a towel, both arms by your side, palms facing in

  • Set the shoulder blade with a scapula squeeze

  • Maintaining that position, lift the lower arm and hand up about 2cms

  • Hold the position, then lower the hand and arm and finally relax off the scapular squeeze

  • Repeat 4 times aiming to build up to 30 second hold

Scapular Retraction "W" position

  • Lie face down with your elbows bent and palms facing down

  • Draw the shoulder blades back and down, letting the elbows lift up but keeping your hands on the bed initially. It will feel quite different than with your arms by your sides

  • Then lift your hands so your forearms are parallel with the bed, hold and then lower

  • Aim to hold for 30 seconds, 4 repetitions

Scapular retraction "Y" position.

  • Lie face down with your arms stretched out above your head as shown, thumbs pointing up towards the ceiling

  • Draw the shoulder blades back and down and slowly lift your arms upwards towards the ceiling

  • Aim to hold for 30 seconds, 4 repetitions

3.   Wall exercise for scapular stabilization

For shoulder blade instability or winged scapula, exercises against the wall can really help. Pushing against the wall while doing these scapular stabilization exercises helps to fix the shoulder blade in the right position making them a popular solution for how to fix winged scapula.

  •       Ball roll

  •       Wall Press ups

Ball roll

  • Stand, holding a ball against the wall at shoulder height

  • Draw your shoulder blades back and down to set the scapula and lean into ball

  • Roll the ball in small circles, leaning through the ball throughout and maintaining the scapular squeeze

  • Spend 2-3 minutes doing this

Wall press ups

  • Stand facing a wall and lift your arms forwards, elbows straight, so your hands just reach the wall

  • Draw your shoulder blades back and down to set the scapula

  • Bend your elbows slowly to bring your chest towards the wall, like you are doing a press up

  • Then push back through your hands to come back up, maintaining the scapular squeeze throughout

  • Repeat 20-40 times

4.   Resistance band scapular strengthening

  • Resistant band rows

  • Resistant band extensions

  • Chest opening with band

  • Resistant band wall slides

Resistant band rows

  • Tie the resistance band to something stable e.g. door handle and hold it in both hands

  • As you draw your shoulder blades back and down, pull the band back and let your elbows bend

  • Hold for 3 seconds and slowly let the arms come forwards, keeping both scapula drawn back for as long as possible

  • Keep your elbows near the side of your body throughout

Resistant band extensions

  • Tie a large knot in the middle of the band, hook it over the top of a door and close the door to anchor the band in place

  • Hold the band in both hands at shoulder height, elbows straight

  • Draw your shoulder blades back and down, and pull the band down bringing your arms down by your side

  • Hold for 3 seconds and slowly bring your arms back to the starting position

Chest opening with band

  • Hold the band in front of your chest, elbows straight

  • Pull your arms apart, out to the side, drawing your shoulder blades back and down

  • Hold for 3-5 seconds and slowly bring your hands back together

Resistant band wall slides

  • Tie a small loop in the band and place it around your wrists

  • Bring your hands shoulder-width apart, pulling out on the band, and place your forearms against the wall as shown

  • Slide your arms up the wall without losing the tension in the band

  • Hold for 3 seconds and slide your forearms back down the wall

5.   Advanced scapular stabilization exercise

  • Table push up

  • Modified plank press ups

  • Plank row

Table push up

  • Position yourself leaning forwards on a stable surface e.g. table as shown

  • Draw your shoulder blades back and down into the scapular squeeze position

  • Let your elbows bend and your chest drop and perform a push up

  • Repeat 20-30 times

Modified plank press ups

  • Lie on your front, with your elbows and forearms tucked underneath you

  • Lift your chest and hips into a half plank position so you are resting on your forearms and knees

  • Holding that position, first draw your shoulder blades back towards your spine (retraction), then push them forwards in the opposite direction (protraction), lifting your upper back

  • Repeat 15-30 times

Plank row

  • Lie face down with your feet wide apart, hands directly underneath your shoulders and toes tucked under

  • Push up into a full plank position and hold

  • Lift up one arm, bending the elbow and draw the shoulder blade back and down

  • Slowly lower the arm back down and repeat on the other side

  • Repeat 20-30 times on each arm, alternating sides

At Valley Healing Hands, we provide the best Physical Therapy treatment forScapular Stability. We provide an atmosphere developed for our patients with a one on one ratio for the best quality of care needed for maximum outcomes and return to play. Our physical therapist are highly qualified and will plan an individualized treatment routine, customized to your specific needs. Our patients are highly satisfied with our services. You can learn about what they have to say about us here and get connected to us here. Our patients love us and you too will! We can get you back in the game!!!


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