The importance of scapula stability for strong healthy shoulders

When we are talking about injury prevention for the shoulders or rehabbing exercises for shoulders, the first thing that comes to mind is our rotator cuff muscles. For those of you that don’t know, the rotator cuff is a group of four different muscles comprised of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and the sub scapular. These four muscles act to stabilise the shoulder. This knowledge confirms that it makes sense to ensure you have strong healthy rotator cuff muscles. There are numerous exercises and methods to train your rotator cuff muscles and to make sure they remain strong and healthy. The purpose of this article though, is not to talk about the rotator cuff muscles. Before walking we must first learn to crawl. You can have the strongest rotator cuff muscles in the world but if you don’t know how to maintain a set scapula when lifting weights sooner or later there’s a good chance you are going to have a shoulder issue. Maintaining a set scapula should not just apply to lifting weights though. Having good scapular control will help in the reduction of injuries around the workplace and home, even when performing simple daily chores. 99% of shoulder injuries in my opinion could be prevented in the gym, workplace and home if we were all taught and educated on how to stabilise our scapula. If you fall or land on your shoulder and cause damage whether it be a break, ligament or tendon damage this is another issue. However when rehabbing the shoulder in this instance it’s so important to regain scapular control in order to regain full strength and mobility of the shoulder joint. Learning how to maintain a set scapula during resistance training should be the foundation of any program, if maintaining strong healthy shoulders is a priority for you. If you have shoulder pain or poor shoulder strength I would first address how well you are able to maintain a set scapula through short, mid and long range muscular motion. Whether it’s rehab or strength improvements, maintaining a set scapular is crucial. For those who love to benchpress or perform any upperbody exercise for that matter – the inability to maintain a set scapula while doing these exercises impedes progress strength wise, while also setting yourself up for possible injury.

During many years of training and working in commercial gyms, I’ve seen a lot of rotator cuff work being performed, however scapular work on the other hand, has been very limited due to a lack of understanding and education. If you want your body to be performing at its optimal level, it’s crucial you know how to set your scapula during resistance training as well as in the workplace if you’re performing any physical work.

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