Shoulder Stabilisation

Shoulder Stabilisation

 

Shoulder stabilisation exercises make up a large part of our preventative programmes at Sport Physio Ireland. But what exactly is shoulder blade stabilisation and why is it important?

 

Essentially what we are talking about is the development of good posture during exercise and activity through ‘switching on’ or ‘activating’ muscles around our shoulder blades and mid-upper back. This is essential for the maintenance of shoulder health and for the prevention of injury.

 

The way in which our society has developed means that most of us spend large parts of the day in seated positions working at desks and slouching over computer screens. This can lead to individuals developing what is known as a ‘forward shoulder posture’ as a result of structures around the front of the shoulder becoming stiff and tight. This in turn can cause muscles of our posterior shoulder to become lengthened and become under active.

 

This phenomenon is not limited to those working in offices. Many individuals who spend large amounts of time training in the gym tend to overtrain these muscles at the front of the shoulder such as biceps and pecs and fail to realise the importance of complimenting this training with some stabilisation work. This is often referred to as ‘all show and no go’.

 

Over extended periods of time, in either one of the scenarios mentioned above, means an individual can lose the ability to recognise how to actually utilise these important structures around our posterior shoulder. They then will often begin to compensate by using other muscle groups to carry out everyday tasks that can place unwanted tension/stress on other areas such as the low back, neck, and elbow.

 

This is where we come in.

 

Demonstration of shoulder protraction (left) and shoulder retraction (right)

Demonstration of shoulder protraction (left) and shoulder retraction (right)

 

In order to combat this issue, you must start with the basics first. Learning to engage or activate these muscles in a non-weight bearing situation is the first step. Once this has been mastered you can then begin to introduce exercises such as shoulder blade push ups (as seen in pic above), or lat pull downs in order to strengthen and stabilise further. This will ensure that when you return to your normal everyday lives, you are at a much lower risk of injury recurrence.

Riain Casey
M.I.S.C.P.