Importance of Scapular Exercises

Today I have an interview for you on the Importance of Scapular Exercise.

This interview is with a fitness professional who has a specialization in injury and a passion for the shoulder.

Well, the interview is with me.

Enjoy the interview with me as I chat about scapular exercise.


Kate Vidulich: Hey, this is Kate Vidulich from . Today, I have a very special interview for you. We will be talking a little bit about shoulder pain.

We are going to discuss the importance of Scapular Stabilization, primarily preventing and treating your shoulder injuries.

We will also talk a little bit about chronic injuries and pain and the best ways to manage these situations.

On the line today I’ve got a very special guest, Rick Kaselj, from exercises for injuries.

I’ll have him introduce himself and then will get to the questions. All right, thanks Rick, take it away.

(Throughout the interview, I will put up a few videos that complement the interview. Here is a scapular exercise with the foam roller.)

Rick Kaselj: Thank you very much, Kate. My name is Rick Kaselj and I am an injury and exercise expert. That means that I help people overcome their injuries and pain utilizing exercise. I’m a personal trainer / exercise physiologist / kinesiologst in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Early on in my career, what happened was I would have people come to the gym and everyone that I saw had some sort of lingering injury that needed to be dealt with.

A lot of times they would say “I have this, do you know of some exercises that I can do for this injury”.

And as I kept seeing more and more of these clients it kind of forced me to head out there and do more research and better understand injuries and what exercises to do for different types of injuries and pain.

It ended up evolving from the training and then teaching other trainers and coaches out there on what exercises to do. And now I have where I write, do videos and create injury workouts on a wide variety of injuries (neck injuries, shoulder injuries, back injuries, hip injuries, knee injuries, etc.).

That’s kind of who I am, Kate.

Kate Vidulich: Wonderful Rick, this is fantastic. I know your website has been going for quite some time. It has been very beneficial to me and to my clients. You have a fantastic product that you have created especially on scapular stabilization which has helped me and my clientele.

Can you tell me primarily who the product is targeted to?

Rick Kaselj: Maybe for those who don’t know I will explain what scapular stabilization is.

(Here is me talking about the importance of scapular exercises with frozen shoulder.)

Kate Vidulich: Yeah, you got it.

Rick Kaselj: If we look into the shoulder there are 3 groups of muscles that end up playing a role.

  • There are the superficial muscles, those are the kinds of muscles that we can see.  For example chest (pec major), shoulders (deltoid), and then the back which (latissiumus dorsi). These superficial muscles end up providing gross movements for moving the arm.
  • The second group ends up stabilizing the bone into the shoulder, whenever you do any type of movement. They end up turning on, pulling the upper arm into the shoulder joint, in order to keep it nice and fixed, whenever you move the arm and those end up being the rotator cuff muscles.
  • The third group that is often talked about is the shoulder blade muscles or scapular stabilizers. These are all the muscles that are around the shoulder blade. What that shoulder blade muscles do is move the shoulder blade whenever we move our arms. And work most effectively and efficiently.

What often times ends up happening is because those shoulder blade muscles are stabilizers, if there’s any type of pain, injury, or poor posture, these muscles end up being turned off and not working properly and increasing your risk of injuries. It could be neck pain, shoulder impingement, frozen shoulder, plus it ends up increasing your risk of rotator cuff injury because since the scapular muscles are not doing their job, the rotator cuff muscles end up having to work even harder and eventually they can’t take it anymore and get injured.

That’s the little story on what those scapular muscles are and why they are so important.

Kate Vidulich: Yeah, absolutely. I mean this kind of issue affects so many people. Any kind of neck pain, shoulder pain –  really this information can apply to anyone in the general population.

Rick Kaselj: Definitely.

One thing that has an effect on the shoulder is here in North America, we do a lot of sitting. It can be driving or going on the subway to work. While we are at work we are sitting and when we are at home we are sitting while watching TV or checking email. It all ends up being in the sitting position.

And if we end up being rounded forward in the shoulders what that ends up doing is lengthening those scapular muscles and putting them in a poor position so they can’t work properly and that puts more stress on that rotator cuff muscle.

Poor posture puts the shoulder in a poor position and the head in a poor position, increasing the risk of pain in those 2 areas, the shoulder and the neck, and also increasing the risk when it comes to neck and shoulder pain.

It’s important addressing those scapular muscles and the common mistake that people make when it comes to working their shoulder blade muscles or their scapular muscles is they end up focusing on rowing movements.

(This is a video on if scapular exercises are bad for the rotator cuff.)

And that’s good, it’s important to work on those rowing movements. That’s one of the movements for one of the muscle groups that you want to work on, but it’s very much like just living on a one type of food.

Just like only eating vegetables and not eating everything else. There are other movements and muscles that you need to focus in on when it comes to targeting those scapular muscles.

Kate Vidulich: Very interesting because it also sounds like you need to get some activation happening as well.

And I think that’s what a lot of people forget about when they try to do workouts like you say and they start to row.

You also talked about pre-rehabilitation right now and rehabilitation. Can you explain a little bit about the difference between the two and how they can be incorporated into an exercise program?

Rick Kaselj: If we look at the difference between pre-rehabilitation and rehabilitation, rehabilitation is recovery from an injury and pre-rehabilitation is doing things to prevent injuries.

That’s the definition of the two.

When it comes to rehabilitation and pre-rehabilitation, a lot of people think that that’s all they have to do.

They have to go and do 30 minutes or  an hour and a half of all these low level exercises that aren’t really very exciting and are not helping them reach their fitness goals, fat loss goals or their performance goals.

In that case what I end up doing is intertwining those pre-rehabilitation and rehabilitation exercises into someone’s program so that they end up spending maybe 5 to 10 minutes just working on these specific exercises.

Kate Vidulich: Excellent. I mean this is great because I also feel like a lot of people bypass all these kinds of movements because they are often not the most exciting in an exercise program.

(Here are a few kind words on my Scapular Stabilization Exercise program.)

Rick Kaselj: Yeah, definitely.

I had this experience. I’ve gone to physical therapy for my back pain. I injured my back and when I was at physical therapy, they gave me a whole bunch of random exercises. I remember sitting in there for 45 minutes doing these very boring exercises that helped a little bit but it almost put me to sleep.

~~~End of Part 1~~~

That is the end of part one of the interview.  I will be back with the second part in a few days.

It you would like to check out my Scapular Stabilization Exercise program, you can here:

Take care and have a great day.

Rick Kaselj, MS