How to Cue the Scapula During Shoulder Exercises

How to Cue the Scapula During Shoulder Exercises

In today’s video, I share my thoughts on the common cue of retracting your scapulae together while performing shoulder exercises.  I’m not sure this is the most advantageous cue, despite it’s popularity.  Instead, I focus on facilitating normal scapulohumeral motion.  I don’t want to restrict the scapula while moving the arm.

Learn more about how to cue the scapula during shoulder exercises in the video below.


How to Cue the Scapula During Shoulder Exercises

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13 replies
  1. Courtney
    Courtney says:

    I just watched this video, and I can see why placing the scapulae in a prepositioned lock, hinders normal rhythm. Are there any cues that you would suggest in place of this. While it seems logical from a PT sports med point of view, it may be difficult for the patient to interpret. So my question is, how would you cue a patient who is displaying poor scapulohumeral rhythm?

    • mikereinold
      mikereinold says:

      You can start with manual cues by moving with the scapula, I also tell them to let the scaps move freely and monitor. Once the feel it and you approve it, they tend to get it.

  2. Scott Ward
    Scott Ward says:

    Hi Mike, great video. Just to clarify, would you still have clients pack their shoulder with arm movements such as carries of low level lifts? Or no shoulder packing at all regardless of the movement being overhead or not?

  3. Roger Jones
    Roger Jones says:

    Hi Mike,

    Great video.
    Question: would it be at all dependent on the static position of the scapula as to how you would cue position? Reason i ask is that if I worked in the gym with some volleyball athletes that lived in a downwardly rotated position with marginal upper trap ‘activation’, could you then cue a slight shrug to get that UT ‘on’, to get a better position overhead. It seems the ‘down & back’ cue could also be detrimental for the ‘down’ cueing? is upper trap being ‘on’ that bad? I guess when and where is UT evil, if at all, or is it levator scap?
    hope that all made sense!

    • Mike Reinold
      Mike Reinold says:

      Roger, I’m not sure I want to cue the upper trap to shrug, that isn’t a normal action when elevating the arm. I believe this is something we often focus on too much. Resting scapular position is fairly irrelevant, it’s all about how well it moves.

  4. Jeffrey
    Jeffrey says:

    Hi Mike, Thanks for the informative video. Was just wondering about one thing – say for example someone is doing a row and has a tendency for their shoulders to roll inward or even hunch upwards. Is there no value in trying to cue the scapula to at least a neutral position? Thanks again!

    • Mike Reinold
      Mike Reinold says:

      Hi Jeffrey, cueing to neutral rather than a shrug or rolled forward position is great, no problem with that at all. However, I still am not sure I would pre-set it that way, vs cue to avoid. I would rather perform the row with a natural movement and just correct the poor pattern you describe while performing.

  5. Kay
    Kay says:

    How do you address the folks that have no scapular control and it flys out 0-60 degrees like with we see with SICK scapula? How can they find the correct rhythm?

  6. mark
    mark says:

    thanks mike! i was actually one of those that would actually tell my athletes to pinch the shoulder blades back while doing the exercises! this makes sense to bring scapulothoraic and glenhumeral joints to work together!

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