LAYING A FOUNDATION FOR HEALTHY SHOULDERS

LAYING A FOUNDATION FOR HEALTHY SHOULDERS

If you’ve ever experienced a shoulder injury while working out, it can be tempting to focus on the shoulder joint itself.  But there may be more behind the problem than meets the eye.

When we think about shoulder strength and function, we focus primarily on the glenohumeral joint—the ball and socket joint that’s formed when the humeral bone of the upper arm meets the scapula (shoulder blade) and the muscles that control and stabilize it.

While it’s an important area to consider, there’s actually a more fundamental relationship that needs to be considered first.  If we take one small anatomical step backwards, we find ourselves at the intersection of the scapula and rib cage.

The rib cage creates a foundation, or platform, from which the scapula functions.  The scapula, which is technically considered a “flat bone,” actually has a concave surface—meaning it curves inward—that fits snuggly on the convex—or outward curving—surface of our rib cage.

When the contoured surfaces of these bones don’t line up normally because the ribs are not situated ideally, the scapula loses positional stability and range of motion.  As a result, the scapula is no longer positioned to remain congruent with the humerus and the rotator cuff, and attendant muscles have to strain to carry out their normal function.

Imagine trying to tighten a bolt using a wrench that didn’t completely fit over the bolt.  You might be able to get the job done, but you would have to exert many times the force to accomplish the task.

In this video you can see a common assessment to determine the scapula on rib cage position described above.

Here, the athlete is unable to keep joint congruence.  As a result, the overhead motion is limited and choppy.

In the second video, the individual is able to maintain better joint congruence. This results in fluid overhead motion.

Now that we have determined poor and favorable shoulder position through the assessment, we can treat the problem. One exercise an athlete can use is the all fours belly lift developed by the Postural Restoration Institute. This exercise will re-teach the body how it feels to have the correct shoulder blade on rib cage position.

You can see here that not only does the scapulae protract forward over the rib cage, but the rib cage moves backward toward the scapulae. When both of these movements are proficient, you’ll enjoy smoother, pain-free overhead motion.

LAYING A FOUNDATION FOR HEALTHY SHOULDERS

If you’ve ever experienced a shoulder injury while working out, it can be tempting to focus on the shoulder joint itself.  But there may be more behind the problem than meets the eye.

When we think about shoulder strength and function, we focus primarily on the glenohumeral joint—the ball and socket joint that’s formed when the humeral bone of the upper arm meets the scapula (shoulder blade) and the muscles that control and stabilize it.

While it’s an important area to consider, there’s actually a more fundamental relationship that needs to be considered first.  If we take one small anatomical step backwards, we find ourselves at the intersection of the scapula and rib cage.

The rib cage creates a foundation, or platform, from which the scapula functions.  The scapula, which is technically considered a “flat bone,” actually has a concave surface—meaning it curves inward—that fits snuggly on the convex—or outward curving—surface of our rib cage.

When the contoured surfaces of these bones don’t line up normally because the ribs are not situated ideally, the scapula loses positional stability and range of motion.  As a result, the scapula is no longer positioned to remain congruent with the humerus and the rotator cuff, and attendant muscles have to strain to carry out their normal function.

Imagine trying to tighten a bolt using a wrench that didn’t completely fit over the bolt.  You might be able to get the job done, but you would have to exert many times the force to accomplish the task.

In this video you can see a common assessment to determine the scapula on rib cage position described above.

Here, the athlete is unable to keep joint congruence.  As a result, the overhead motion is limited and choppy.

In the second video, the individual is able to maintain better joint congruence. This results in fluid overhead motion.

Now that we have determined poor and favorable shoulder position through the assessment, we can treat the problem. One exercise an athlete can use is the all fours belly lift developed by the Postural Restoration Institute. This exercise will re-teach the body how it feels to have the correct shoulder blade on rib cage position.

You can see here that not only does the scapulae protract forward over the rib cage, but the rib cage moves backward toward the scapulae. When both of these movements are proficient, you’ll enjoy smoother, pain-free overhead motion.

2017-10-17T18:04:47+00:00

About the Author:

mm

Mike is a Physical Therapist and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Pure Performance Training. He earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Springfield College where he also pitched for the varsity baseball team.