Exercise Spotlight: Scapula Push Ups
When was the last time you thought about your shoulder blades?
Gave ’em a little TLC?
Moved ’em around a little bit?
Do you even know where they are? Of course you do…but does your brain?
(Photo Cred: Jessica Serra Huizenga)
If you can’t make the mind-muscle connection to control your scapulae through their full range of motion, it can lead to neck pain, headaches, poor shoulder function and a significant increase in the risk for shoulder injuries. You also can’t proficiently do a whole lot with your arms if you don’t know how to control your scapulae nor can you reach your full strength/power potential in the gym or in your chosen sport.
Every upper body exercise and many lower body exercises involve and depend on healthy, well-functioning shoulders, and good, healthy shoulders depend on the proper function of the scapulae.
Whether you are bench pressing, back squatting, reaching to get something from a high shelf, picking up your baby, rowing a boat or a weight – you NEED good shoulders.
When everything is peachy keen, the scapulae are hugged tight against our rib cage, our chest and back muscles are “balanced” and everything is in good alignment to allow things to run fluently.
In other words, all of the muscles in our chest, neck and upper back that control and effect scapula movement and position are strong and doing their jobs.
Due to the demands of modern life (desk jobs, increased smartphone use, more time behind steering wheels, etc.), sedentary lifestyles, poor training programs, and other factors that negatively influence posture, most tend to be weak in the muscles that keep the scapulae in a good position against the ribs and lacking the mind-muscle connection it necessitates.
…Leaving the scapulae unstable and interfering with the biomechanics of the shoulder.
Make sure you are addressing this both in and out of the gym. Everywhere from your warm-up, to your workout to how you sit in your car on the drive home.
Lets get those scaps moving!
One of my favorite drills to help re-introduce clients to their shoulder blades is Scapula Push-Ups. Not only do these help rebuild the mind-muscle connection, but they help to strengthen and fire up the serratus anterior – one of our major scapulae stabilizers that helps stabilize our scaps while we move our shoulders.
Add these into your warm-up or in between sets of upper body exercises for sets of 8-10.
1 – Start in quadruped position, on all 4s, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and a neutral spine.
2 – Slowly pull your shoulder blades together and towards your back pockets and then push them apart – think about pushing your chest away from the ground. Keep your elbows locked through the entire movement.
What Not To Do:
This video shows some of the common compensations that can occur: “chicken neck”/neck coming out of alignment and chin jutting towards the ground, shoulders shrugging up towards the ears and performing the movement too fast/without control.
Try these out and see how you feel and perform after a few weeks.
Questions? Reach out! Erika@HurstStrength.com