The importance of the shoulder blades part two with the Physiotherapy Worthing team at Physical Revolution

July 2, 2014 by physicalrevolution No Comments »

In the first part of this series the importance of the shoulder blades we talked about getting re-acquainted with our shoulder blades and why they proved to be so alien to us. Well in this second part we are going to talk about how the position of your shoulder blade can potentially set you up for injury before you even begin to use your arm and how you can remedy it…

The starting position of your shoulder blade is all important when we talk about the health of your shoulder – most shoulder injuries and pain are experienced with the arm elevated. If you can get somebody to take a picture of your shoulder blades from behind with your shirt removed and then take a look – you can decide what position your shoulder blades are starting from before you even think about lifting your arm. Let’s start this blog with shoulder blade depression. What is it and why do our shoulder blades become depressed? To put it simply the mood of the shoulder blade is “down” – as you can see below, if we draw a line parallel to the spine (black line) and one parallel to the border of the shoulder blade (red line) we can see that the shoulder blade is rotated down towards the floor – not a great position to commence lifting the arm from. This means the muscles on the top of your shoulder at the side of the neck (the upper trapezius muscles) have to work very hard to be able to turn the shoulder blade from a downward facing position to pointing up towards the ceiling to enable the arm to elevate without structures in and around your shoulder becoming painfully squeezed. If we look at the position in the photo below, the trapezius muscle has to be very strong in it’s outer range – (a difficult task if we think about cross bridges and the sliding filament mechanism – more on this in later blogs) – this means that: if your shoulder blades are pointing downwards then the muscle that attaches the top of the shoulder blade to the neck is being stretched – muscles aren’t as effective at contracting from a stretched position – they prefer to be in the mid range. Fewer cross bridges are formed in the muscle fibers from this “outer” (stretched) end range position and therefore the body finds it very hard to elevate the shoulder blade – as a result there is poor co-ordination between shoulder blade and the arm/shoulder joint. This may result in the shoulder riding up onto the underside of the shoulder blade giving us shoulder pain.


Look at this video below – wherever the arm goes the shoulder blade needs to follow:

For those of you who have “gloomy”, depressed shoulder blades, liven them up with this exercise below to revitalise those lazy upper fibres of your trapezius on the side of the neck – your shoulder joint will thank you for it because the chances of painful impingement type symptoms may dramatically reduce:

Remember revolutionaries, if you are unsure how to perform any of these exercises or are experiencing shoulder pain, give one of our Worthing Physitherapy team members a shout


Stay posted for our next installment when we discuss what happens to the shoulder blade when we lift the arm out in front to raise the revolutionary flag !



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