The scapula, otherwise known as the shoulder blade, plays a vital role in shoulder mechanics. If the shoulder blade is not controlled well via the muscles that attach to it, problems ranging from neck pain to rotator cuff tendonitis are often the result.
Scapular strengthening is often overlooked both in patients that are trying to avoid shoulder surgery and with patients recovering from shoulder surgery.
In particular, the muscles that help to “upwardly rotate” the scapula need to be strengthened and work in concert with one another.
What are the principal muscles that control upward rotation of the scapula?
1. Upper Trapezium.
People with weakness in the upper trapezium will often present with collarbones that are horizontal rather than the normal position of “slightly pitched.”
View the “Shoulder Shrugs” exercise:
2. Serratus anterior.
This muscle originates on the underside of the shoulder blade and attaches on to the ribcage. Weakness in this muscle is often seen with “winging” of the shoulder blades when observing the patient from behind.
View the “Serratus Forward Hugs” exercise:
3. Lower trapezium / middle trapezium.
These muscles when strengthened appropriately help to keep the shoulder blade from moving away from the spine in addition to helping with upward rotation.
View the shoulder exercise “Physioball Middle Trapezium”:
View the shoulder exercise “Seated Shoulder Pinches”:
Top image credit: © Lev Dolgachov/Fotolia