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The Basic Principles: Scapular Movement and Stabilization

Stabilizing scapulae on the rib cage is as important as contracting the abdominal muscles during the initiation of every exercise. When stability is absent, there is a tendency to overwork muscles around the neck and shoulders.

Be aware of scapular stabilization at all times, whether there is movement of the arms and spine or not. Since they lack a direct bony attachment to the rib cage and spine, the scapulae have a great deal of mobility. In making a greater range of motion available to the arms, the scapulae can glide upward, downward, inward and outward, and can also rotate upward or downward.

Through the whole shoulder girdle, a sense of stability, not rigidity, should always be maintained. A sense of width should be maintained across the front and back of the shoulder girdle. The shoulders should not be allowed to overly round forward or squeeze completely together. The scapulae should lie flat on the rib cage and glide across it without coming away from it. Keep in mind that the scapulae will react to movements of the arms and thoracic spine. For example, the scapulae will naturally elevate during overhead arm movements and protract during thoracic flexion.

Be aware that an individual’s neutral placement of the scapulae may be slightly different from their natural resting position. An ideal working alignment must be established for each individual.

Experimenting with scapular move and stabilization

Start supine, with pelvis and spine neutral. Knees flexed, feet abducted hip-distance apart on the Mat. Arms long by sides, palms down.

Scapul Isolations (Elevation, supine)

Inhale Elevate scapulae, lifting shoulders toward ears.
Exhale Return scapulae to neutral, sliding shoulders down away from ears (avoid rounding shoulders forward as they slide down).

Scapul Isolations (Depression, supine)

Inhale Depress scapulae, drawing shoulders away from ears.
Exhale Return scapulae to neutral.

Scapul Isolations (Protraction, seated or supine)

Inhale Protract scapulae, widening between shoulder blades.
Exhale Bring scapulae back to neutral, with feeling of opening collarbone.

Scapul Isolations (Retraction, seated or supine)

Inhale Retract scapulae, bringing shoulder blades closer together.
Exhale Return scapulae to neutral.