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

The Hip Flexor Stretch

The Hip Flexor stretch is a common exercise used in both gym and rehab settings. Personally I use it a lot in conjunction with many other movements, in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and sports-related injuries.

While it can be an excellent prescription for many individuals, it is very often performed wrong. Some simple queues to help make sure your technique is spot on are:

– Tighten your tummy
– Squeeze your bum (glutes) on the side being stretched
– Try not to arch through your lower back
– ‘Spread the ground’ with your feet

Once your form is correct you can play around with the angle of the stretch for even greater results. Because of the oblique orientation of the iliopsoas muscle (hip flexor) I find that adding a slight degree of rotation towards the opposite knee can allow for further lengthening of the muscle and a better all around stretch.

This stretch, when prescribed in conjunction with good strength-based rehab exercises, can help to improve reduced hip mobility. And improved hip mobility has strong links to decreasing low back and knee pain.

Give it a try and let us know how you get on.

Riain Casey, M.I.S.C.P.

Five Tips So You Can Avoid Injury

Sports Physio Ireland’s physiotherapist Riain Casey talks us through five tips so you can avoid injury.

Many injuries can be easily prevented. Some times small adjustments to our everyday lifestyle can have a big impact in injury prevention.

Simple things like correctly fuelling the body and a good healthy sleeping pattern are key to aiding the body recover from on-field activity. Coupled with a specific warm up to prep the body for the demands on field, good proper movement based training and maintaining fitness levels to meet the demands of the activity can greatly help reduce the risk of injury or re-injury.

Try out the tips and let us know how you get on.

The importance of hip extension.


Many long distance runners fail to recognise the importance of good strength and conditioning training as part of their programmes. Running is very much a ‘catabolic’ activity, meaning that you can lose muscle mass during your training.

From an injury prevention point of view, it is extremely important to complement your running with good strength work to counteract this decline in muscle mass and reduce your risk of developing injuries such as shin splints, calf strains, or low back pain.

This does not mean lifting massively heavy weights in the gym that you have no interest in. Shown in the vid is a resisted step up exercise for running mechanics and the development of hip extension and glute strength. Give it a try.

Riain Casey MISCP

Why Do You Have Back Pain?

Low back pain is the single most common cause of disability worldwide, with an estimated 80% of our population expected to experience some form of back pain at some point in their lives.

But why back pain?

The way we have evolved as a race means that most of us spend the best part of our day sitting, whether that be at a desk in work, in front of the TV, or in the car driving. It is very difficult to maintain perfect posture for these extended periods of time, therefore, as fatigue sets in, and we begin to ‘slouch’, we can easily place unwanted stress and tension on some of the joints and ligaments of our spine.

Why does it keep coming back?

We’ve all been there. You have been diagnosed as having a ‘slipped disc’ or a ‘trapped nerve’, a few treatment sessions later the pain has resolved and you have resumed your everyday life. Great. One year later, the exact same thing happens again and you are back to square one.

What we do differently at SPI?

At SPI, we base our whole assessment around discovering the ROUTE CAUSE of your pain. Whether that be muscle Imbalance, poor pelvic/core stability, reduced one legged control, postural issues, among many others, we work hard to correct these problems to ensure that your back pain does not become a recurring issue.

Here are some of the exercises I like to use to combat some of the issues mentioned above. Give them a try and let us know how you get on.

Riain Casey
Chartered Physiotherapist

Fat Loss Conditioning

Conditioning exercises for the injured person

Keeping on top of your fitness while you are out with an injury can be a difficult task. Because, as a result of your low back, hip, or knee issue, you are now limited in what you can do on the pitch, on the track, or just in everyday life. Therefore, you will need to choose your exercises carefully so as not to aggravate this existing injury.

As we have discussed in previous posts, altering your nutrition is also extremely important during this time to avoid putting on excess body fat.

Here in SPI, we can advise you on what exercises are SAFE for you to perform at home or in the gym in order to maintain that good level of fitness, and will also give you some pointers to help you to adjust your nutritional intake appropriately.

While being injured can be frustrating, it doesn’t have to mean you stop training! There are always ways to work around any injury, without causing further damage. Check out some of the exercises I like to use with some of my injured clients here and give them a go. 

Riain Casey – Trainer and Chartered Physiotherapist

Initial Sciatica management

Sciatica is a very uncomfortable issue we see a lot of at SPI.

The first few days is all about relieving the pain. Taking anti inflammatories and a hot bath can help with the initial spasm and pain while you’re waiting to get an appointment with your physiotherapist. 

Here are three simple pain relief exercises you can try out in those painful first few days.

Riain Casey

SPI Physiotherapist

Ankle Rehab for Golfers

Ankle ligament injury

Ankle ligament injuries (both lateral and medial) are some of the more common types of injuries at SPI. With the growing popularity of social sports such as 5-a-side soccer and tag rugby, we are now seeing more and more men and women ‘going over’ on their ankles which can cause significant joint damage.

The most frustrating thing about these types of injuries is that, once you do it once, you are far more likely to do it again. We’ve all seen the guy who needs to tape up his ankles to within an inch of their lives before any game or training session, for fear of re-injury. Not good.

This is why it is so important that when it happens, you get the injury assessed properly and get a structured rehabilitation or preventative programme in place in order to nip the issue in the bud there and then so that the injury does not recur.

Check out some of the exercises I like to use with some of my patients below.

Riain ‘glass ankles’ Casey



Reactive Neuromuscular Training

Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT), as the name suggests, refers to a type of training that involves the use of both our musculoskeletal and nervous systems. At SPI, we like to use RNT as part of our rehabilitation programmes when treating a variety of conditions, including ankle, knee, hip, back, and shoulder issues. 

RNT. A Fancy Name for a Great Rehab Tool

By adding in resistance to a joint using bands or pulleys, some of the smaller stabilising muscles are forced to ‘switch on’ and engage in order to maintain joint stability throughout the exercise. 
Training and rehabbing with the use of RNT can help to clean up a lot of dysfunctional movement patterns and therefore can help prevent future injury down the line too.

Check out some of the basics I like to use in the video below.

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

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