The shoulder blades, or scapulae, are the largest bones in the shoulder area, and have more muscles attached to them than any other bone in the shoulder complex. They are key players in proper posture and shoulder position, and it’s been scientifically proven that exercises like today’s challenge prevent poor posture from degenerating into kyphosis (Dowager’s Hump).

In addition to correcting posture, the Shoulder Blade And Back Straightener works to realign a “winged” scapula, which can skew the curvature of the upper spine.

Let’s take a look at these conditions of the spine and shoulder blades, and why it is so important to address them.

Why:

A winged scapula is when the shoulder blade protrudes out of the back, and can cause pain, discomfort, and limited shoulder mobility.

Poor posture can give rise to this condition, which results from a weakened or tight serratus anterior muscle. The serratus anterior starts along the side of the ribs right below the chest, and wraps around the back to attach under the scapulae. If it’s not functioning properly, shoulder mobility and alignment suffer.

A winged scapula can also result from a damaged thoracic nerve that’s been rendered dysfunctional due to injury. This nerve damage can bring on serratus anterior dysfunction.

Other Potential Causes Of Winged Scapula

The trapezius muscle lifts and rotates the scapulae, and if it’s not functioning properly due to poor posture, injury, or nerve damage, then the scapula can slip out of position and poke out.

In addition, the many muscles that attach to and stabilize the scapulae (such as the rhomboids and latissimus dorsi) can become weak, stretched, or tight due to slumped shoulders or disuse.

Sometimes a winged scapula is the body’s response to frequent shoulder dislocations or ongoing pain in the shoulder. Dislocations can stretch the ligaments that attach the scapula to the collar bone (clavicle), and painful shoulder conditions cause you to compensate with abnormal shoulder movements (even if you don’t realize it).

Targeted exercise is the best way to get your shoulder blades back into alignment and correct a winged scapula. Of course, exercises that straighten and stabilize the scapulae are also pivotal in correcting posture and flattening the upper back.

Today’s exercise goes well with The Posture Adjuster, another Weekend Challenge that addresses this important area.

Let’s get right to it!

How:

To do the Shoulder Blade And Back Straightener, you just need a flat wall to lean against.

  1. Lean forward against the wall, bringing your arms up in front of your face and placing your forearms against the wall.
  2. Your forearms should be approximately shoulder width apart.
  3. Slowly slide your forearms up the wall, until your arms are almost straight.
  4. Slide back down to the starting position.
  5. Repeat this up and down motion 10 to 15 times, or as many as you feel comfortable with.

This exercise may seem overly simple, but it’s very effective at shoulder alignment and scapular strengthening. In fact, exercises like this one have been scientifically proven to prevent the progression of kyphosis.

Researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center studied the effects of spinal extension exercises on a group of women aged 50 to 59. A spinal extension exercise is a move (like today’s), where the vertebrae are stretched and realigned, and the extensor muscles of the spine are strengthened.

The study observed that the women who performed such exercises three times a week for one year had a far lesser progression of kyphosis than the control group that did not do spinal extension exercises.

Here’s the conclusion:

“Exercises which strengthen the extensor muscles of the spine can delay the progression of hyperkyphosis.”1

Isn’t it reassuring to know that if you’re doing these Weekend Challenges, you’re already being proactive about preventing and correcting poor posture and kyphosis? The Shoulder Blade And Back Straightener is a perfect addition to your exercise regimen, and it adds variety to the exercises in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, which includes many postural moves.

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And don’t forget another benefit of “Densercising”: good posture gives you an air of confidence and makes you look and feel younger. That’s a “perk” everyone can appreciate!

Have a great weekend!

References:

1 Ball, J.M., et al. “Spinal extension exercises prevent natural progression of kyphosis.” Osteoporosis International. March 2009. 20(3): 481-9. Doi: 10.1007/s00198-008-0690-3. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18661090/

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  1. dorothy

    I am 80 yrs old

    Can kyphosis be minimized or corrected at this stage of the game?

    Love your articles and exercises

  2. fabie villaluna

    Good day. I bought VitB complex but the label warns not to be taken if you have osteoporosts (because of the brewers yeast). Why? Thanks.

  3. Joyce

    Hi Vivian, I saw on a comment that you recommend a certain calcium supplement so could you tell me what and how much you believe someone with osteoporosis should have daily. I do take a D3 supplement. Thanks! Also I quit taking boniva, it made me feel terrible.

  4. Nancy Susan (go by middle name) Smith

    In searching the internet, I fortunately found your website a little over a week ago after a bone density scan found that I have osteoporosis again. I do not want to go thru years of medicine as I did from 2000 thru 2010 and then was told I should not have taken meds so long! Thank you for the exercises, that I have started, and feel sure if I stick to those you offered that I will be able to improve my bone health. I am just so grateful for your willingness to share your knowledge, as it provides a great deal of hope at this time in my life (age 71).

  5. Judy

    I ordered your set – book, recipe book and exercises. However, I had surgery and forgot to download the recipe book and exercises prior to the surgery. I received the book, but don’t have the other two. They were in my junk mail and were deleted after two weeks. Is there any way I can have these re-sent? I can’t find a telephone number to talk to a Customer Service Representative. Thank you for any help on this matter. I really want the items, but I can’t afford to pay for them again.

    • Customer Support

      Hi Judy,

      Please check your inbox for a message from Customer Support, where these issues are typically handled. 🙂

    • Joan Lanier

      I, too, have lost your set on the computer. I wish they were hardcopy.

  6. Gene Halleck

    After switching to a pretty strict Alkaline diet and doing Pilates 3 times/week (private one-hour sessions) I was pretty confident that after four years my BMD test would show dramatic improvement. (I also take the Calcium that Vivian recommends and have refused to take any Osteoporosis meds.)
    Unfortunately even after completely altering my diet and continuing with Pilates, my T-score for hips remained in the Osteopenic range and for spine, remained at -4.1 which is just about the worst score that I have seen reported in any of the SaveOurBones correspondence.

    • Pat Hendrick

      Hi Gene, I just wanted to tell you of my bone scan as I couldn’t find anybody on here with a worse one and I was very worried.
      Before I started with this program my
      AP Spine was T-score -4.2 Z-score -3.00 in 2011
      Left femur neck was T-score -2.4 Z-score -1.20 in 2011
      I had a really good diet but I’d forgotten about Vit D.
      I continued to exercise gently (mostly walking and some of Vivian’s exercises) and added Vit D and more magnesium to my diet. At my next scan I noticed.
      AP Spine was T-score -4.2. Z-score -2.9 in 2013
      Left Femur neck was T-score -1.8 Z-score -0.6 in 2013
      So the spine hadn’t improved but hadn’t gotten worst. I had an injury to my lumbar spine where the 5th vertebra was fractured. I think this is the area that they measured so I didn’t trust the scan.
      My own doctor thought I was taking their drugs, but I’d researched and decided not to take them as they were being taken off the market anyway. When I went back for a check up I asked for a new prescription for the drug. She got all flustered as she knew they were taken off the market. She just wrote it for a different drug.
      I digress, you can only do your best, scare tactics are terrible, Everybody has a different body makeup. Vivian’s advise is great and I follow it as best as I can. Bonus is I feel great and strong.

    • Sylvia

      1 in 50 women over 50 develop a parathyroid tumor and that can cause osteoporosis. That happened to me and after the surgery my declining bone density was reversed. An excellent web site is parathyroid.com.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi Gene,
      You don’t mention how long you’ve been on the Program, but please bear in mind that there is much more to bone health than density scores! Mainstream medicine focuses so much on density because it needs numbers (i.e. fixed parameters) to prescribe drugs, so most doctors follow the same protocol. While density is an indicator of bone metabolism, the main focus of bone health is simply to prevent fractures, and I explain in the Program, less dense but healthy and renewed bones have better tensile strength than thicker, denser, older bones.

      Also, please don’t forget that machines are not accurate, which means that your DEXA may not reflect a good comparison. The bottom line is that you’re not taking toxic (and often dangerous) drugs, and that you’re allowing your bones to remodel as they should. Bone health is not a density “pageant,” it’s all about not breaking bones, and so far, you’ve succeeded with flying colors!

  7. Sharon

    I am 68 years old I had breast cancer this summer and my dr said I have to take Boniva cause the cancer pill will deplete the vit c in my body I am all ready having jaw pain I am going to take a copy of your article to him and discuss it with him I have to take the cancer pill I know that but I will not take the Boniva my jaw is killing me I feel lousy I was taking ezorb high quality vit c had bone density test and my osteoporosis has not gotten any worse progressed Help! What would u do I did order the book thank you! Sharon Fawley

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi Sharon,
      I am truly sorry to hear about your diagnosis, and I wish you a successful resolution.

      As I am sure you’re aware, I believe that whether or not to take any drug is a personal choice. You’re doing the right thing by researching and talking with your doctor about this. It’s interesting that your doctor prescribed Boniva to offset calcium depletion caused by the cancer drug, when in fact Boniva contains no calcium.

      I encourage you to take your health into your own hands, learn as much as you can, and keep an open dialogue with your oncologist.

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