Most people when they hear the word “core” think it’s about the abdominal muscles. You must be aware of the importance of having a stronger core and what role it plays in improving your posture, balance, mobility & overall strength. But you might be surprised if we tell you that your shoulders have their core. Your scapula is commonly referred to as your “shoulder blade,” it’s the large, flat bone that sits at the top of your rib cage & is held at the place by so many small muscles present in your shoulder girdle.
Unlike other joints present in your body, your scapulothoracic joint doesn’t connect the body with fibrous, cartilaginous, or synovial tissues. Your scapulothoracic joint majorly relies on the coordinated dance of your 17 muscles and mobility of these three joints — acromioclavicular, glenohumeral, and sternoclavicular joints — to provide stability to the rest of your arm & shoulder.
Benefits of Shoulder strengthening
Weakness in the muscles that support your shoulder blade, especially in the larger scapular muscles like serratus anterior, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi & trapezius muscles, affects the way your scapula moves & the functioning of shoulder joints. Your shoulder needs both mobility & stability for support of your upper extremity. Poor muscular strength in your scapula will cause uncoordinated movements, instability & pain in the elbow, wrist & hand.
It will be easier if you think of scapulae as the foundation of Your body. Your body will only be as sturdy as its foundation is. Your upper body strength majorly relies on your scapular stability. No matter if you are a professional athlete, play sports regularly, or are a fitness trainer who is very considerate about workouts and moment patterns, shoulder blade strengthening is certainly going to help you. Not only with the performance but injury prevention. Following are the shoulder exercises that will help in relieving pain & tightness. The lengthening & strengthening exercises will help in improving flexibility, increasing your range of motion & bringing greater comfort & ease to the movements.
1) Shoulder roll
Start performing this exercise by standing tall with both of your feet planted firmly on the ground placed at hip-width apart. Imagine a string at the top of your head is pulling you straight up. Keep both of your arms relaxed and generate all the force through your shoulders. Then shrug the shoulders up closer to your ears, up & low. After that, circle the shoulders down & back, as if you are sliding the hands down at the back of your pants pockets. Keep your chin tucked in throughout the motion. Repeat this motion up to 2-4 times. This exercise is really helpful if you want to relax.
2) Triceps stretch
Reach both of your arms straight up. While keeping both of your elbows in place, bend your arm & reach the hand down at the back. Then with the other hand, apply gentle pressure for bending the elbow. By doing so, you will feel a stretch in your upper arm & shoulder. Hold this position for six seconds. Then repeat it two to four times with each arm.
3) Across-the-chest stretch
This move helps in increasing the flexibility & range of motion especially in the shoulder joint & its surrounding muscles. While performing this exercise, you must lower the arm in case you feel any kind of pain in the shoulder refrain from doing it. For performing this stretch, place your right arm across the chest. Place it at the crease of your opposite elbow. You can also use the left hand for supporting your arm. Try holding this position for up to a minute. Then repeat at the opposite side.
4) Standing Rows
Stand by facing the anchor with a resistance band stretched at your elbow height. Then step back till the arms are held straight & the resistance band has induced a mild tension. Try standing tall, by bringing the shoulders down & back, try engaging your abs. Then draw your elbows back as you squeeze your shoulder blades at your back. You must feel your muscles stretched between the shoulder blades while the chest opens up. Doing this will strengthen your scapular muscles for improving posture & scapular positioning.
5) Dynamic T and I
Start this exercise by lying flat on the ground with your face down and holding both of your arms out at the sides like you are making the letter “T.” Start drawing your belly in & try maintaining your spine neutral, then lift your arms at the sides while you maintain the “T” position, engage your muscles between the shoulder blades. Then lower both of your arms gently till they are fully placed at your side as if you are creating the letter I. Then return to the position form where you started. Make sure you do not form an arch at your back or lift the head up.
6) Bilateral External Rotation
Start performing this exercise by standing tall with your shoulders held down & your belly drawn in closer to the back of your spine. Hold both of your elbows at the angle of 90-degrees with a resistance band in the hands, open the arms out at your sides for inducing resistance. Do not let your shoulders tilt at the front — keep your arms down & back. It will strengthen your rotator cuffs.
7) Pec Stretch, W, and Snow Angel on the Foam Roller
Start performing this exercise by positioning yourself on the foam roller with your head & tailbone supported. For forming the T-shaped position: open your arms out at the two sides while allowing the gravity to generate the stretch. Make sure you do not force your arms down closer to the floor if they aren’t touching. For forming a W shape: bend the elbows & start lowering arms till both of your arms hang at your sides. For forming Snow Angel position: Begin by placing your arms down at the sides. Then gently move your arms at the side and overhead as if you are creating the snow angel, then return to the position from where you started. Make sure you hold these positions for a few seconds.
8) Bridge Yoga Pose
Start performing this exercise by lying flat on your back and bend both of your knees at the hip-width distance. While pointing your toes straight ahead. Then rest the arms at your sides, your palms facing down. Then walk on your feet back till the fingers are about to touch the heels. Take a deep breath, and press the feet onto the ground while lifting the hips. Then breathe out & relax while you make that pose. Keep your full focus on opening the chest & moving the shoulder blades down & together. Try holding this pose for about 3-5 slow breaths, then lower the body closer to the ground. Down to the floor.
9) Quadruped Thoracic Rotation Stretch
This exercise will also give you a ripped chest. Start this exercise by going down on your all fours, with both of your hands stacked underneath the shoulders & the knees stacked under the hips. Engage the core while maintaining a flat back. Then place the left hand at the back of the head, so your elbow points at the left side. Then rest your hand lightly to make sure you do not put pressure on the head or your neck. It will be your starting position. Then slowly rotate the head & shoulder closer to your right hand placed on the ground. After that reverse, that motion & rotate to your left & up so the elbow points up toward the ceiling. Hold this moment for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Then do the other side.