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Scapula Stability – Preventing Shoulder Injuries

by Ralph F. Klisiewicz, certified Chicago personal trainer and certified Chicago muscle activation technique specialist

As a personal trainer I work with many athletes who use their arms for swinging, hitting, or throwing.  These activities tend to place great stress on the shoulder.  A consequence of repetitive stress on the shoulder causes the shoulder to alter its mechanics.  This often results in limitations in the motion of the scapula (shoulder blade)

The scapula is where the motion of the entire arm starts.  The scapula is a very mobile bone.  Interestingly, the scapula has only one bone-to-bone attachment; at the collar bone.  The rest of the scapula is stabilized by surrounding muscles.  Therefore, an athlete needs to ensure that the muscles that move the scapula are strong and stable. 

The following are 4 simple suggested exercises that train scapula in all 4 directions; retraction, protraction, depression, and elevation.

Shoulder shrugs (elevation)

Step 1

Chicago personal trainer-shoulder shru 1
  • Hold a dumbbell or a elastic band

Step 2

Chicago personal trainer-shoulder shrug 2

  • Without bending arm at the elbow shrug shoulders as far as comfortable
  • Hold position for 1 second and return to starting position


Chair Shoulder Depression (depression)

Step 1

Chicago personal trainer-shoulder depression 1

  • Place hands on an edge of a chair
  • Try to keep torso upright

Step 2

Chicago personal trainer-shoulder shrug-2

  • Without bending the elbows elevate your body upwards by pushing down into the chair






Push up plus (protraction)

Step 1

Chicago personal trainer-push up plus-1

    • Assume a push up position

Step 2

Chicago personal trainer-push up plus-2

  • While keeping elbows straight, push away from the floor
  • There should be no movement in the arms




T-retraction (retraction)

Step 1

Chicago personal trainer-retraction of shoulder 1

  • Lie down on your stomach
  • Position arms about 90º away from body

Step 2

Chicago personal trainer-retraction 2

  • Keeping torso and neck still elevate arms from the floor as far as comfortable





As a personal trainer, I asses my clients and determine which direction they are the weakest.  I then place greatest emphasis on exercises that strengthen that motion.  Of course, smart progression is the key to strengthening and avoiding injuries that are often associated with throwing, hitting, and swinging sports.