The scapular retraction is a movement that focuses on strength and improving the integrity of your shoulder blades. This specific exercise requires you to pull your shoulder blades closer together to the spine while preventing your shoulder from doing an upward motion or a shrug. The opposite of this is called the scapular protraction which requires you to push your shoulder blades away from the spine and forward to your chest area. This basically leaves you with a bad hunched posture. More article from Fitboot to help you achieve your body goals.
Importance of Posture and the Scapula
The scapula is not a muscle but is, in fact, our shoulder blades. It can be found on both sides of your upper back. You can feel it protrude if you place your hand on your upper bag and raise your shoulders. The scapular retraction allows for better posture. You can perform this by lifting your elbows to the side and trying to make them touch each other from the back.
While the shoulder blades are not muscle, they are bones, they are covered with a variety of important muscles like the lats and traps. These muscles that are attached to the scapula allows a wide range of movements that are essential for our own mobility and accomplishing daily activities.
The Benefits of Scapular Retraction
You might be surprised how such a simple movement will give some impressive benefits to the body. Understanding the little intricacies of scapular retraction can help enhance all your upper back exercises by a significant margin.
What the scapular retraction offers is a better mind-muscle connection. This greats in assisting and maximizing the benefits you can achieve from lats and traps focused exercises. This extremely simple exercise will allow better awareness in proper posture when it comes to upper body exercise. And if you were aware of these types of exercises, you know how important proper form is to obtain the best results.
The scapular retraction will also help to improve your form during weight lifting exercises. This form allows your upper body to utilize its full strength when it comes to weight lifting. For example, the opposite of the scapular retraction is protraction. If you use this form when lifting, most of the weight will be placed on your shoulder muscles which are significantly weaker than your chest and upper back muscles.
By using the retracted form, the weight will be evenly spread to your shoulders, chest, and upper back muscles. This makes weightlifting less strenuous on your muscles and lowering the risk of injury. As you can see, understanding this simple yet effective exercise will greatly improve the benefits you will gain from upper back muscle as well as with weight lifting exercises.
The scapular retraction exercise helps improve your overall upper body strength for lifting as well as developing better stability.
Best Scapular Retraction Exercises
For those who wish to improve their scapula as well as their control over their shoulder blades, there are several exercises that you can perform. I will be listing down some of the best scapula retraction exercises that you can do in your home or at the gym.
- Seated Cable Rows
One of the most effective scapular retraction exercises comes in the form of the seated cable row exercise. You will need to have access to the seated cable row exercise machine or, alternatively, you can use exercise bands. Just keep in mind to focus on giving your shoulder blades a good work out by pulling them back together.
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows
This exercise has the added benefit of tripping your triceps as well. You only need a dumbbell and a bench to do this exercise. Conduct this exercise in a slow and steady manner to truly give your triceps a good burn. Keep your back straight and focus on lifting the weight using your elbow and not your hand. Pull it upwards until you feel your shoulder blades get a good stretch.
- Barbell Rows
If you want to level up the challenge of using a dumbbell then the next logical step would be to use the barbell. Barbell rows utilize the same fundamentals as the dumbbell row. This means you will be using your elbows to lift the barbell while maintaining a straight back throughout the exercise. Using your shoulder blades, you will be lifting the barbell using your elbows and not your biceps to obtain the best results.
Shoulder Instability Causes
Unstable shoulders are a health problem that can lead to many issues as it can hinder our full range of movements. There are several causes of this problem and learning all of these factors will help prevent this from affecting you in the future.
As with machines, our body tends to deteriorate if we fail to use it regularly. Unfortunately, the shoulder blade is one of the most often overlooked part of the body. This problem is further worsened by the fact that our scapulae are needed to perform some of the most basic movements.
If we fail to use the scapulae for a prolonged period of time, we will experience a degradation with our range of movements. It might also cause an increased risk of a shoulder injury in the future. This is why it is important not to lead a sedentary lifestyle.
As with the spine, bad posture can lead to problems with our shoulder blades. If you tend to hunch your back a lot, you might be at risk to several problems concerning the scapulae. Standing up straight with your chest out is a good way to prevent these problems. This might take constant reminders but you will benefit greatly from having proper posture at all times.
Same with being inactive, exercising way past your limits will inevitably cause your muscles to break down. Stay fit but understand where your limits lie. Focus on a full-body workout rather than just picking one specific exercise routine. This is why gym classes have the upper body and leg day schedules.
Getting the Wrong Information
It is best to check with a fitness expert when it comes to formulating your exercise plan. There have been cases wherein a person injures his shoulders due to being fed the wrong technique when it comes to their exercises. Basically, don’t just believe anything you hear. Especially if they are not from experts in the field.
How to Test Shoulder Stability?
Checking the current stability of your shoulders is pretty simple. The test you need to conduct is called the Winged Scapula Wall. This test is designed to help you locate your winged scapula. This is the protrusion on your upper back that appears you have some form of scapulae instability.
In order to do this test, you will record yourself with your back facing the camera. Step a few feet away from the wall and stretch your arms toward the wall with your fingers pointing down. Now, place your hands on the surface of the wall at waist height and press your hands to it. If only one of your shoulder blades protrude quite noticeably then there is a high chance that you are suffering from some sort of shoulder instability.
I highly suggest you consult with a doctor to know what steps you should take in order to help return stability to your shoulders. Nipping this at the bud is a great way to prevent serious problems down the road.
Shoulder Blade Stability Exercises
Now, let us go look at some great shoulder mobility exercises that you can do in order to ensure you won’t experience any muscle atrophy in regards to your upper back, chest, and shoulder muscles.
Shoulder Rotation Exercise – This exercise is designed to improve movement and control of your scapulohumeral rhythm. It focuses on rotation at your shoulder joint while also creating a steady rotating rhythm for both shoulders.
Scapulae Step-Ups – This training is great for improving the asymmetrical shoulder motion. It requires one shoulder to retract while the other protracts. If you want to build stable shoulder muscles then you definitely need to incorporate this training into your regimen.
Overhead Wall Rollout – For stability, this exercise will manage to develop your shoulder muscles to provide you with a better range of mobility and lower risk of injury. It also gives your core stability a good amount of workout.
While often overlooked, the importance of maintaining the strength and mobility of our shoulder blades or scapulae is essential. This part of the body is necessary in order for us to lift weight and to deliver optimum maneuverability of the upper body. Hopefully, this article has given you a bunch of idea on how to train your shoulders and improve its strength and mobility.