The scapula plays a vital role in normal shoulder motion, position and function. A sports injury, trauma or muscle strain can damage the scapula and inhibit normal shoulder and scapular motion. Your physician or physical therapist may recommend scapula stabilization exercises to strengthen the trapezius and serratus anterior muscle, which are responsible for stabilizing the scapula. They also restore the position and movement of the scapula to prevent any secondary damage to the shoulder joint. In addition, they help to restore the range of motion in your shoulders.
The scapula is anchored by five main muscles, including the rhomboideus major and minor. Strengthening these muscles is important in stabilizing the scapula and facilitating shoulder movement and flexibility. Begin by placing your right arm under your left shoulder. Bring your left arm over your right shoulder by gently pulling it across your chest. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds and relax your arm. Repeat this stretch on your opposite arm and this one set of 10 repetitions on each arm, twice daily.
Shoulder Circumference with a Ball
To perform this stretch, you need a ball that fits snugly in your hand, is easily gripped and can be moved with ease. A tennis ball works well for this exercise; however, you may also use a soccer ball since it has traction and can be easily gripped. Hold the ball with your affected arm against a wall. Keeping your elbows straight, push firmly on the ball and begin to move the ball. Perform circular, up-and-down and side-to-side motions with the ball. Continue moving the ball for one uninterrupted minute and rest for a minute. Perform 10 repetitions once daily.
The shoulder shrug strengthens the trapezius muscle, which is responsible for stabilizing the scapula, and the exercise restores flexibility and range of motion in the shoulders. It can performed while sitting or standing and with or without dumbbells. If you are performing this exercise with dumbbells, place a dumbbell in each hand and keep your arm and elbows straight. Move your shoulders up toward your ears and hold for five seconds. Shrug your shoulders backwards and downwards and rest for five seconds. Perform one set of 10 repetitions, three to five times a day.
Begin by lying on your back. Bend both knees and plant your feet flat against the floor. Place your hand over your shoulder and bring your elbow close to your body. Extend your arm toward the ceiling and push your shoulder as high as possible so that your shoulder blade is off the ground. Repeat this exercise on the other arm and perform one set of 20 repetitions once daily.
- University of British Columbia: Scapular Stabilizing Muscles: Rehabilitation Protocol
- Pacific University: Scapular-Stabilization Exercises: Early-Intervention Prescription
- Mid-Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic, P.C: Scapular Stabilization Exercises
- UW Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine: Home Exercises for the Unstable Shoulder
- American Council on Exercise: Shoulder Exercises