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.
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!
To do the Shoulder Blade And Back Straightener, you just need a flat wall to lean against.
- Lean forward against the wall, bringing your arms up in front of your face and placing your forearms against the wall.
- Your forearms should be approximately shoulder width apart.
- Slowly slide your forearms up the wall, until your arms are almost straight.
- Slide back down to the starting position.
- 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!
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/