The scapulae are commonly referred to as the shoulder blades. Correct scapula positioning allows optimal movement and function of the shoulder.
As the scapulae is part of the shoulder girdle, reaching and holding heavy objects can cause discomfort and present as risk of injury to other structures in the shoulder if the scapula isn’t stabilised. Lack of stabilisation is commonly attributed to muscle weakness and/or poor coordination. Balance of the rotator cuff muscles and superficial musculature of the shoulder and upper back is required for adequate mobility and stability.
The rotator cuff, made up of four muscles, are the deep support structure of the shoulder. They connect the scapula to the shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint). Imbalance in strength of the rotator cuff muscles can impact the mobility and control of the shoulder girdle.
Therefore, if the scapula is not stabilised during movement then the rotator cuff cannot work effectively to support the joint, especially when lifting and holding heavy objects. Also, sustained poor posture such as when sitting at a desk can lead to muscle length imbalances and poor positioning of the scapula.
Developing awareness of good scapula positioning and endurance of maintaining good posture is paramount. “Setting” the scapula refers to optimal positioning of the scapula on the back of the rib cage to provide a stable structure for the shoulder girdle and functional activation of the surrounding muscles. Endurance of the postural muscles and scapula stabilisers are necessary for efficiency of movement and prevent development of pathologies from overuse of certain muscles (tendinopathy), impingement, and general wear and tear in the shoulder joint.
For optimal scapula and shoulder girdle function, balance of the intrinsic rotator cuff muscles, superficial/global muscles (eg. deltoids, traps, rhomboids.), training motor control/coordination of muscles through varying movement patterns, and exercises challenging stabilisation should all be included.
Pilates is wonderful for developing your awareness of your shoulder girdle, correct positioning and posture. In Pilates you can target specific muscles, practice good movement patterning and control of the shoulder girdle through a large range of motion.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of our wonderful Instructors at Art Of Pilates, Neutral Bay.