SCAPULAR STABILITY POSES TO IMPROVE POOR POSTURE
A common muscular imbalance that we see in the upper body is caused by our daily postural habits, and that includes our sport. Many of us sit a desk to work, with our hands on the keyboard and our shoulders rounding slightly forward. Driving puts the upper body in a similar position, as do other activities including eating, cycling, boxing, playing hockey, riding a motorcycle and gardening.
When we habitually round our upper back and bring our arms out in front of us, an imbalanced postural pattern emerges:
- Tight upper traps and neck.
- Weak mid back, as your shoulder blades subtly pull apart.
- Tightness in the chest and the fronts of the shoulders.
Spending significant periods of time in this position can lead to pain in between the shoulder blades (interscapular pain), reduced range of motion in the neck and shoulders and leave you at increased risk of injury.
In order to correct this muscular imbalance, we need to practice counterposes that reverse this posture—opening up the chest (pectorales) and the fronts of the shoulders (anterior deltoids) and stabilising the muscles that support the shoulder blades (the rhomboids, trapezii, posterior deltoids and serratus anterior).
SCAPULAR STABILITY YOGA POSES
In yoga, we can strengthen the scapular stabilisers with two different types of spinal extension poses (backbends).
- Prone—lying face down on the mat and working against gravity to lift our upper body off the mat eg. Baby Cobra, Snake, Locust and Bow.
- Supine—facing up and using using the strength of the upper body to arch our spine back eg. Bridge, Upward Facing Plank, Fish, Camel and Wheel.
The key with Scapular Stability poses is to externally rotate your shoulders and draw your shoulders away from your ears. This helps to stretch the pecs and fronts of the shoulders, as you strengthen the muscles that support your shoulder blades, without causing additional tension in the upper back and neck.
BEST TIME TO TRAIN SCAPULAR STABILITY
To reduce your risk of injury, it’s crucial to activate and stabilise the muscles that support your shoulder blades before tugging at them in any of the activities listed above. You can do this in the morning if you’re heading into a long day at the office, before exercise or to take a break, in the middle of the day.
Please ensure that you do not practice any movements that cause you pain. You can always take a modification to reduce the intensity.