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If you want to know how to fix scapular winging you first have to know how to assess it. In this video, I give you a step by step approach for fixing scapular winging and show you the exact stretches and exercises that will help you the fastest to do this. The scapulae (or shoulder blades) are good indicators of the health of your shoulder since they are directly part of the socket joint of the shoulder. If you have a movement dysfunction in your shoulder blades then you can be assured of the fact that your shoulder itself will not operate properly.
The first thing you want to do is look at how your shoulder blades move as you raise your arms up overhead and straight out in front of you. Have somebody video you so you can watch for the flaws after the fact. Look for a slight head nod to either side, a slightly elevated shoulder on one side, or a protrusion of one or both shoulder blades as you raise or lower the arms back down. Here, Jesse is demonstrating all of these. You might also see a bunching up of the shoulder blades as you raise up which could be an indicator of tight rhomboids.
If any of these is present you will want to perform the stretches shown for 45-60 seconds. Stretches for the levator scapula and rhomboids are shown and would need to be done for each of the sides that is affected. The key, as with any stretch, is the consistency with which you perform it. Aim for at least 4-5 times per week of 3-5 reps at a time on the sides that are affected.
The next thing to do is assess what your posture looks like in standing from both sides as well as the front. Again, you can either have someone take a picture of you in each position or just stand in front of a mirror and look for yourself. What you are looking for here is a pronounced rounding of one shoulder or both as well as a shoulder that seems to droop down more than the other. Tightness in the internal rotators of the shoulder (particularly subscapularis) as well as the lats and pec minor can be major causes of this. Here are videos in which I show you how to stretch each of these areas in depth.
How to Stretch Your Chest (AND HOW NOT TO!) –
Rotator Cuff Stretches (The Ones You REALLY Need!) –
How to Stretch Your Lats (BEST STRETCH EVER!) –
The key is that when these muscles are tight, impingement of the long thoracic nerve can become more probable. When this happens, the muscles that it attaches to (the serratus anterior) can become weak and cause the scapular winging to occur. Here, no matter how much strength training and exercises you do for the serratus, you will not fix the problem until the tight muscles are stretched and the compression is relieved.
Finally, you will have a series of serratus anterior exercises that you can perform to start strengthening this muscle and correcting the position of the shoulder blades when moving your arms overhead. Don’t try and do all of the exercises shown. Instead, choose 2-4 of the them and aim to work them into a small routine 3 times per week in addition to your regular workouts to start correcting the imbalance.
Remember, the focus should be on quality reps and not quantity. Aim to complete 20 sets of 1 rather than 1 set of 20. In time, you will see that you not only will fix your scapular winging dysfunction but will start realizing more pain free gains in your shoulders once again.
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