Connecting the clavicle to the humerus, the scapula is one of the most important bones in the body. Without our shoulder bone, our arms would hang limply at our sides. Muscles hold this bone against the rib cage. These muscles, called the serratus anterior and rhomboid muscles, may be damaged ad cause the scapula to raise. Scapular stabilization exercises will help to strengthen these muscles and prevent damage to the scapula. These muscles are often taxed by swimmer and pitchers, though other injuries may lead to damage.
Scapular Stabilization Exercises
Athletes, laborers and all manner of people do various activities are at risk of damaging the muscles that hold the scapula to the rib cage. A winged scapula, as it is commonly called, is incredibly painful and drastically reduces the range of motion and strength of the arm. This can be caused by a lack of strengthening or over exertion. On a positive note, there are many ways to strengthen the muscles and surrounding muscles of the scapula.
Causing the shoulder bones to raise upwards is one of many exercises that will help. This can be done simply by raising the shoulders toward the ears. Able to be done while lying down or standing, this will help prevent /damage while lifting objects. Holding weights in the hands and bending the arms at the elbow will increase the weight on the shoulders during this exercise.
The muscles that are used during elevation exercises are complimented by those that are used during depression exercises. The act of dropping the shoulder blades toward the ground will exercise these muscles. Damage may occur when lowering or dropping heavy items, and this will help to ensure that these muscles are strong and healthy. Keeping a straight back and lowering the shoulder blades, with or without weights, will work these muscles.
Bringing the shoulder blade together is called adduction or retraction. This can be done by bringing the elbows toward each other behind the back. When used with weights, these muscles can become powerful components of other exercises. These muscles are often under appreciated and ignored, which is a common reason why they are damaged. Push-ups and similar exercises will help these muscles to become stronger.
The opposing muscle group to the adductor muscle group are the abduction muscles. These muscles are exercised when the elbows cross in front of the body. Like the adductor muscles, these are strengthened during push-ups and similar activities. These are often more developed that the adduction muscles, which may cause certain high intensity exercises to strain the weaker muscle groups. It is important to balance the strength and ability of the various muscle groups.
5. Upward Rotation
When the scapula rotates upward and allows the hands to meet over the head, the shoulder blades separate diagonally away from each other. When we raise our hand or grab objects from high places, we are using these muscles. These muscles are often less developed than other muscles, and this is one of the reasons why people hurt themselves when take heavy objects down from high places. Use weights and raise your arms into the air to exercise these muscles.
6. Downward Rotation
Of course, the complimentary muscle groups need to be developed as well. Stretching the arms down toward the knees will help these muscles develop. When we pick up objects and hold them at a distance from our chest, we use these muscles and our lower back muscles. It is important to keep heavy objects close while we are carrying them. This will help prevent muscle strain in this important area. Use weight and lower your arms to develop this muscle group.
7. Rhomboid Stretch
Cross an arm in front of the body and place the opposite hand behind the shoulder. Pull the arm across the body without allowing the torso to rotate. Change arms and repeat to balance the body. To increase the effectiveness of the exercise, cross both arms across the body, grab the shoulders and pull the arms together. This should cause the muscles between the scapula an spine to be strengthened.
8. Wide Push-Ups
The standard push-up is beneficial for the arms, while wide push-ups are more beneficial as scapular stabilization exercises. These will also help to develop the pectoral muscles. Place your hands further than shoulder width apart and do the push-ups. You may also want to hold the position and do isometric plank exercises. As your body strengthens, you can continue to widen the distance between your hands and chest.
Rotate your arms in a slow and steady manner. Many people attempt arm rotations vigorously, but this may lead to problems with the tendons and muscles. Instead, slowly rotate your arms. This can be done by extending your arms to the side and making small circular rotations. These rotations can increase in size. Additionally, it is important to rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise. The arms can also be pointed upward, downward, forward or backward for maximum effectiveness.
Like rotation exercises, these movements should be done at a reasonable speed. Place your arms outward and to the side, and then raise and lower your arms like a flapping bird. This should allow your fingertips to touch your thighs and meet above your head. This same movement can be done both forward and backward as well. Crossing these movements in front of the body to touch the opposite knee is also beneficial.
A healthy body can exercise these muscles with athletics and other activities. Pitching a baseball or throwing a football will develop these muscles. On a lighter note, throwing darts or playing ping pong will work these muscle groups as well. Be certain not to over exert the body, as athletes are prone to these injuries because of the high speeds at which they need to throw.
Yoga and other activities have a wide range of muscles that are developed. Yoga even has some movements designed as scapular stabilization exercises. Yoga carrying little risk of damaging any muscles, as the activities were developed to be done by people of all ages and medical considerations. For people who have little experience exercises, yoga can help to develop these muscle groups. Experienced practitioners can do more serious and intense forms of yoga, which makes yoga perfect for developing muscles at any stage.