Forums Shoulder What is optimal scapula position?

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    • #71242
      AvatarNancy Alwin
      Participant

      Hi! I’m reading Supple Leopard at the moment and trying to sort myself out. There’s one thing that’s unclear to me though regarding shoulder positioning: I get the shoulders back-part, but what about the shoulder blades specifically? I’ve noticed that after moving the sholders back, I’m still free to choose what to do with the scapulas, that is I can either make them flat against the rib cage, or I can sort of move them further back and together. I think my default tends to be keeping them flat, but I’m just checking in to see that this is correct. I haven’t seen this mentioned very clearly in the book yet or any Mwod-video. 

      Thank you!

    • #75698
      AvatarNathan Richer
      Participant

      in my reading about scapulas, it seems that there is the old thinking and there is the new thinking of which i’m a convert.

      the scapula should always move along the scapular “plane” which really isn’t a flat plane but is curved because the scapula wraps and moves around the rib cage. it should not “wing” off the ribcage or be oriented incorrectly. see this video:
      this post is bound to cause some controversy- there are still many coaches and PTs promoting incorrect scapular action especially through exercises that pinch the shoulder blades together or exercises like scapular pushups. even the crossover symmetry system, as good as it is, promotes this in their DVD (i use their cables but stop short of pinching the shoulder blades at the end).  but i’m a convert on this more recent information regarding the role of the scapula in stabilizing the shoulder.
    • #75784
      AvatarNancy Alwin
      Participant

      Hey sorry for taking so long but thanks man, very informative video, which kind of confirmed my intuitions and more or less what I’ve been doing, which is nice so I’m more confident that I’m in the right direction. It feels kind of exaggerated to flare the scaps down and back and pinch them as opposed to keep them rotated the other way and taped against the rib cage as the video recommends, as far as I understood, which seems more organized and centered or something, and heck even aesthetically better ha.

      The question now is just why I still sometimes have a nagging pain in a point around my right shoulder blade. The video said something about depressing the blades but not too much, and I’m thinking maybe I’m overdoing it sometimes, not sure but something to watch. Another theory is that when I’m lifting heavy til failure that I’m losing form as I’m trying to crank out the last rep, and that something happens there with lasting effects. Also something to work on.

      If any other theories why I have that I’m grateful.

    • #75785
      AvatarNathan Richer
      Participant

      from what you said, i would back off the “lifting to failure” part. unless you are competitive body builder and are looking for hypertrophy, i would say that teasing failure can be counterproductive as you imply. you may start compensating like crazy in order to push out that last rep and start using muscles that you shouldn’t be using in that movement.

      lay down on the ground and put a lacrosse ball on that tender place. pause on a hard spot and then move the arm up overhead and then back down to your side. you can also move it out and around like doing half a snow angel. move the ball to other points all around the scapula, and up and down along the spine, and repeat arm movements in every new place.
    • #75787
      AvatarAlex Daubon
      Participant

      Glad to see this is being discussed as it has been weighing on my mind as well.

      I recently purchased the Crossover Symmetry system myself after seeing it being mentioned on the forum – David, it might have actually been you, in which case thank you – after 2 shoulder surgeries I’m desperate for anything that would help shoulder function and I was unaware of this system.

      The instructions for shoulder exercises all initiated by first cuing to retract the scapula and THEN perform the shoulder extension, flexion, or abduction as required by the exercise. Thanks to Eric Cressey I had the eye to stop and think twice about if this is proper technique. Eric advocates that in a healthy scapula/shoulder relationship, the shoulder/arm moves first, then the scapula is to engage fluidly – and that doesn’t mean that the scapula is to be pinched back as hard as possible, but maybe only a slight pinch. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73Dm-j5wYIc

      So, this leads to two opposing ways of coaching scapular involvement:

      1. Optimal scapula position and engagement is a simple ON/OFF. So begin exercises by first retracting the scapula completely (ON) and THEN moving the arm or shoulder, then optionally completely protracting at the end of the movement (OFF). Repeat.
      2. Optimal scapula position and engagement is a fluid and dynamic relationship with the shoulder. So begin exercises by leading with the shoulder then somewhere between the start and end range of motion of the exercise, engage the scapula by retracting slightly. When you return to the beginning of the movement, you can have a slight protraction of the scapula.

      I believe that in general, #2 is correct. Although for certain exercises, #1 is better.

      For instance, on rows, pushups, band-pull aparts, face pulls, and pull-ups/chin-ups, #2 is correct.

      For bench press and deadlift, #1 is more fitting.

      Thoughts/Comments?

    • #75788
      AvatarAlex Daubon
      Participant
    • #75799
      AvatarNancy Alwin
      Participant

      David: 

      Yes I think that’s exactly what is happening. I’m using the “Body by science” lifting protocol as described by Doug Mcguff in the book with the same title, which has going to failure as a key point, and I think I’ll continue exploring it for a while longer. But yes I think I am compensating in the end because of this, and I’ll have to really keep an eye on myself not to do this.

      Regarding the ball, I’ve been doing that a bit and I think it has actually helped but not alleviated it completely. I could defenitely do it more though! Thanks for the advice.
      Baldr:

      I watched your videos, and maybe you already have but check out the first video in this thread by Evan Osher – If nothing else what he says and shows around 7 minutes in. As I understand it by doing what he describes we get kind of an ON-switch as you describe it in method one (but not by retracting!), that puts the scaps in a good relationship with the shoulders/ribcage, and then we maybe don’t have to care so much about when to retract or protract because we just keep them in place and do our business. This seems to give us a simple way to always have the scapulas in check.
      That is if the guy is right about this, and that I’ve understood it correctly. But it seems to make sense.
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