A winged scapula is a rare condition in which the shoulder blade protrudes from a person’s upper back in an abnormal position. The "wing" causes the shoulders to round forward and inhibits your ability to pull your shoulder blades together. It can inhibit your ability to lift, carry, pull and rotate your body. Certain exercise methods can help you reduce the amount of winging of the scapula or prevent the condition from worsening.
Corrective Exercise Training
Many physical therapists and exercise professionals use corrective exercise training to address the winged scapula. This method identifies the cause of the condition by observing how your body is aligned in a standing position and how your body moves in fundamental patterns such as squatting, turning and lunging. Often, the source of the problem can be distant from the scapula, such as a misalignment of the lower spine or pelvis, according to fitness professional Anthony Carey, author of "Pain-Free Program."
Passive Scapular Retraction
This exercise relaxes your spine and uses gravity to help bring your shoulder blades together. Kneel on the ground with your shoulders over your hands and your hip joints over your knees. Relax your belly so that it is distended toward the ground and passively extends your lower back. Keep your arms straight and relax your shoulders, allowing your head to drop down. With each exhalation, bring your shoulder blades closer together and increase your lower spine extension slightly. Hold the position for five to 10 deep breaths. Repeat the exercise two to three times.
Standing Doorway Chest Stretch
This exercise opens your chest cavity and pulls your shoulder blades together passively while maintaining an upright posture. Stand in a doorway with one foot in front of the other and with both feel pointing forward. Place both forearms on the sides of the doorway with your arms bent at 90 degrees. Shift your weight toward your front foot, and your shoulders should pull together without conscious effort. Hold the stretch for five to six deep breaths, switch leg position and repeat the stretch.
Carey suggests that you perform these exercises two to four times a day to see significant results. Depending on the severity of your condition and the training frequency, it can take four to 10 weeks to improve your posture.
- "Pain-Free Program"; Anthony Carey; 2005
- "Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine"; Scapular Winging: Anatomical Review, Diagnosis, and Treatments; Ryan M. Martin, David E. Fish; November 2, 2007