The scapula is a Latin word meaning shoulder blade. The scapula is a large flat bone found on the back of the human body. It sits in between the thoracic (back) and lumbar (low back) vertebrae. The scapula covers the shoulder blade and collarbone. It connects to the humerus, the long bone in the upper arm, at an angle. The scapula can become injured when it is dislocated or damaged in other ways. It can also be injured in many sports, such as football.
It’s essential to keep this part of your body healthy and strong. Weakness in the scapula can lead to shoulder problems, including pain, loss of motion, and injury. In addition, if you have arthritis or other conditions that affect your joints, weakness in the scapula may worsen your situation. In addition to keeping your scapula healthy, you can also strengthen it with weightlifting exercises. You can do these with free weights or machines that offer resistance training. Be sure to choose activities that work both scapular muscles near the front of the shoulder blade and those closer to your neck to get a total workout.
Ways to assess scapula alignment and strength
There are many ways to assess scapula alignment and strength. One standard method is push-ups, which can measure scapular movement. To check for a weak scapula, you can place your hands on your hips and perform a row of push-ups until failure. If your upper back rounds, your scapula is likely in a tight position. Another way to assess scapula strength is to perform seated shoulder mobilizations. You can sit on the edge of a bench with your legs extended out in front of you. With one hand behind your head, grab the opposite elbow with the other hand and pull it closer to the chest as you extend into an upright posture. Then repeat on the other side for a total of six repetitions per side. If you have pain after performing this exercise, consider incorporating passive stretching into your daily routine to alleviate tension in the joint.
3 Keys to Look For When Assessing Your Client’s Scapula
1- Check the distance between the medial border and the spine. It should be roughly 5 centimeters. If it’s greater than that, it will show you that the scapula is in an extended position.
2- Look at the inferior angle of the scapula. If you’re seeing the pointy part at the bottom, it flushed against the thoracic spine. If it’s swinging up, it gives you the idea that the serratus anterior is not pulling down and pulling the scapula up against the thoracic spine.
3- Look at the superior part of the scapula to see if there’s a more excellent tone in the upper traps and levator causing the scapula to elevate and tilt or start beating or slide over the thoracic spine.
These three things show you that if you find that the distance is more significant than five centimeters on the scapula, you need to work on the retraction of the scapula. If the medial border of it pops up, you need to work on serratus anterior exercises.
I did a quick video after teaching the Exercise Rehabilitation of the Upper Body courses (shoulder, low back, neck, elbow & wrist) in Vancouver, BC.
I have a great question about what I look for when looking at a client’s scapula. Just like with everything, you can make it as complicated as you want, but if I had to focus on the three most important keys, it would be the three in the video.
Please do leave your comments on the video below.
- Let me know what you disagree with.
- Let me know what you are looking for in your client’s scapula.
Oh, one more thing. This weekend I am off to Regina, Saskatchewan, to present to the Saskatchewan Kinesiology and Exercise Science Association (SKESA). On Saturday, at their Education Day, I will discuss “Building a Post Rehab Business.” Then on Sunday, I am presenting Postural Assessment & Exercise prescription.
Have a great day.