Some Antifragile exercises to stop your shoulder blades from winging!
Written by Our Resilient Health Osteopath Dr Courtnay Wood and pics of Our Resilient Health Osteopath Dr Mel Pierlot!
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Here are some at-home worthy techniques to strengthen you shoulder stability muscles. Done correctly, this will help to reduce winging of your shoulder blades as well as improve posture and activate the posterior (back) aspect of your body (often forgotten about).
ISOMETRIC means: of, relating to, involving, or being muscular contraction against resistance, without significant shortening of muscle fibers, and with marked increase in muscle tone. (FROM: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/isometric)
Isometric subscapularis contraction
1. Starting seated side on to a table
2. Place your arm on the table with your elbow in line with your body
3. Against the resistance of the table, pull your elbow in towards the side of your body. Your arm shouldn’t move but you should be able to feel the activation of your side body
4. Imagine you are trying to crush a coke can between your arm and the side of your body
5. Hold this for 5 seconds and repeat
6. Make sure to do both sides
Isometric posterior shoulder VS wall or supine
1. Standing with your back against the wall
2. Set your shoulder blades by drawing them back and down your body slightly making sure not to stick your tummy out
3. Engage your core and activate your deep neck flexors by gently drawing up the base of your skull while tucking your chin into your neck (visit anti-fragile hacks for your posture part 2 for more information on this)
4. Bend at the elbows, now gently push your elbows back into the wall behind you, this will activate your triceps and the back of your shoulder blade
5. Make sure not to roll your shoulders forward while you push you elbow back – you will lose the posterior connection of your body
6. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat
You can also do this lying down on your back!!
Prone superman or sphinx
1. Lying on your tummy, resting your forehead on your hands
2. Ensure your pelvis is relaxed and your glutes aren’t engaged
3. Suck your belly button to your spine to engage your core
4. Using your back muscles, gently lift your head, chest and hands off the floor, stopping just before your get to your lower rib cage lifts of the ground
5. If you are noticing your gluteal muscles are engaging you have gone too far, back off a little bit
6. Hold for 5 seconds and relax
A modified version of this is the passive sphinx
1. Lying on your tummy
2. Push up onto your elbows – making sure your elbows are in line with your shoulders
3. Keeping your pelvis and legs relaxed, gently lengthen through your thoracic spine (upper back) by driving your chest towards the corner of the ceiling
All 4s (Quadruped) rocking
1. On all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips
2. Engage your Lats by drawing your shoulder blades down your back
3. Keeping this neutral position, slowly rocking your body forward, so your shoulders are over your wrists and return to the starting position
4. Then do the same thing to the left and right of your body
5. Now make it a little bit more challenging, tuck your toes under and lift your knees off the floor. Keep the neutral back position by
engaging your Lats and repeat the above rocking steps.
Banded scapula retraction
2. Holding your theraband in both hands with your palms facing forwards, arms down by your sides
3. Begin with a bit of tension already on the band
4. Gently draw your shoulder blades back and down against the resistance of the band
5. At the same time, activate your deep neck flexors by gently drawing up the base of your skull while tucking your chin into your neck (visit anti-fragile hacks for your posture part 2 for more information on this) and engage your core – imaging drawing the bottom of your rib cage to your pelvis
6. Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat
Note: make sure you aren’t recruiting through your upper trapezius muscles (the ones on the top of your shoulder) to pull against the resistance of the band. If this is happening, slacken the band a little bit and hold for 5-6 seconds instead. As your muscles strengthen you can build back up slowly to 10 seconds with a stronger resistance
See you in the clinic!
The Resilient Health Team