Scaption and Shoulder Impingement

Today I would like to talk about scaption.

The question is based on a Facebook message I got from a reader.

Thanks so much Steve.

Thank you for everyone who follows me on Facebook and sends me questions.

I have a tough time calling myself an expert, but thanks.

The debates about shoulder pressing, hmmm.

This is my take on it.

#1 – The Afraid Physical Therapist


I hate generalizations.  Some people throw me into the pool of dumb personal trainers even though I have two degrees, numerous publications, trained thousands of people and have been doing this for a few years.

I can’t generalize all physical therapists because I hate being generalized.

I see numerous personal trainers telling their clients not to press overhead, which I think is wrong.

Lets start with not generalizing.  If I look back at what I did when I started training or even what I did last year, I shake my head at it.

#2 – What is the Big Deal About Shoulder Pressing?

The statement of not pressing over the head being bad has been around for a while.

I think people feel that everyone who shoulder presses could run the risk of a shoulder impingement.

This is another bad generalization.  Most clients will not have shoulder impingement with pressing and need to be doing overhead movements.

Plus avoiding something is not always the best answer.  Looking at why it hurts and what can be done to move it out of pain is more important because not addressing it could lead to other issues.

#3 – What to Do About the Fear of Overhead Pressing?


If you are a geek and like reading journals like me, you would know that you can move the overhead press exercise into the scapular plane.

If you don’t know what the scapular plane is or scaption, let me explain what scaption is:

What is Scaption?

==>  Scaption <==  What is it?

Let me go back to the research thing.  When I did my master’s project, a lot of the research had test protocols that moved the subjects out of pure abduction and into the scaption.  They did this in order to do the best they can to eliminate impingement being a factor in the study.

Let me go through an exercise example.

For example, with the traditional shoulder press with dumbbells.  When you press overhead, you traditionally bring the ends of the dumbbells together at the top of the movement.

You can move the elbows so they are not only in the frontal plane (abduction).  You move them about 30 degrees in front of the frontal plane.  Then you perform the shoulder press movement.  Instead of hitting the ends of the dumbbell at the top of the movement, you would hit the corners of the dumbbells.  This puts the shoulder in a happier position and less likely to pinch.

#4 – Overhead Pressing Is Evil!

This probably needs another post but I do at least one overhead movement in a workout.

I don’t feel a shoulder press is the best or only overhead press movement to do.

It could be a diagonal pull up or an incline bench press but I do want to do movements over 90 degrees of shoulder height for shoulder health.

I hope that helps.

One thing I talked about in the video was the Effective Rotator Cuff Exercise Program.

That is it.

Rick Kaselj, MS

Here are some other articles on shoulder pain or rotator cuff that may interest you:

What is Shoulder Impingement?

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

These videos may interest you as well:

Frozen Shoulder Exercises

3 Cues to Remember when Teaching Rotator Cuff Exercises