If you have ever trained with us as a client you have probably heard us say “engage the core” or “focus on engaging between the shoulder blades” a million times throughout your training sessions. The lack of ability to engage the scapula and core is such a common issue that it tends to become a prime focus when working on progressing foundational strength. Although the core is just as important, discussing what goes on between your shoulder blades would be a better place to start.
The most common scapular issue we tend to notice most is the client's inability and difficulty performing scapular retraction or producing scapular movement as a whole. You are wondering what scapular retraction is and why it matters so much. Scapular retraction is the ability to pull the shoulder blades together towards the spine, which makes your posture more erect and keeps your spine in alignment. The main reason why we struggle so much with scapular retraction is due to poor posture either sitting for prolonged periods of time or even standing. This area of the body tends to then become over stretched, decreasing the ability for muscular activation causing muscle amnesia. It can also be due to overtraining and decreased flexibility of anterior musculature such as the pectorals. Here are a few go-to exercises to promote scapular mobility and stabilization.
Top 8 strengthening & mobility exercises
Resisted scapular retraction (with row to advance)
Shoulder external rotation
Hanging or modified hanging scapular depression
Band pull apart
Everyone, even us trainers, could benefit from scapular stabilization. If you would like to discuss in more detail or learn more regarding scapular stabilization please talk to one of the IF trainers!