Gaining Scapular Control

The shoulder blades are an enigma to the joint-by-joint theory.  They act as a mobile-stabilizer to everything connected to the thoracic cavity.  The only comparable area is the pelvis, which connects the hips to the lower canister of the torso.  It’s unique function has coined the new term, “controlled mobility”.  In short, the shoulder blades first need maximal mobility in order to provide maximal stability.  Without either, your shoulders and posture will be far less than optimal.

Dr. Andreo Spina breaks this concept down even further, giving typical versus possible positioning:

 

There are two main types of kinetic chain movements – open and closed.  Open chain movements allow the hands and feet to move freely in space.  Closed chain movements fix your hands or feet to an immovable surface.  Open chain movements are purely motor control.  There is no help from external forces.  Closed chain movements react to the environment.  Feedback from the surface propels the joints into ranges of motion beyond what the brain alone can provide.

The easiest position for the scapula to mobilize is when the shoulder socket sits axially.

Shoulder blade position is tied to shoulder socket position.  Centered along a perfectly vertical or horizontal plane, the glenohumeral joint allows the shoulder blade to move freely.

 

range-of-motion-exercises-for-shoulder

                                                      photo credit: bodybuilding advisor.com

OPEN CHAIN

Arm abducted scapular retraction

A little while back I shared this case of a swimmer with chronic impingement problems. The previous post showed the top (presentation) and middle (1 week into treatment) frame only. The third frame shows our progress approx 1 month in using basic Functional Range Release (FR)® and Functional Range Conditioning (FRC)® principles. The patient has been pain free for a while, but more important is the dramatic improvement in scapular mobility and control. ————— Articular INDEPENDENCE before articular INTERDEPENDENCE Far too often people are focused on training complex movement patterns before they even have the necessary independent joint functions needed to perform them. The patient below is a swimmer who presented with shoulder problems. It is obvious in the first frame that he lacks scapulo-thoracic dissociation (ie. His scapula and thoracic cage movements are coupled…which means he has no scapulo-thoracic joint so to speak). How then would he perform movements which require this articulation? Compensation. The patient is being managed with: 1. Functional Range Release (FR) to promote relative tissue motion, and to remold aberrant connective tissue resulting from the stress of the compensation patterns 2. Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) to create independent articular motion, build tissue resilience, and improve motor control ———————————- #FunctionalRangeRelease #FRrelease #FR #FunctionalRangeConditioning #FRC #FRCms #ControlYourself

A video posted by Dr. Andreo Spina (@drandreospina) on

 

Vertical Scapular Circles from the Deep Squat Positions

With lower body assistance impeded, scapular and thoracic motion is concentrated and/or encouraged. Any help from the hips, pelvis, and low back is negated when performing upper body movements from the bottom of  a squat.

https://instagram.com/p/6XR34eI9hf/?taken-by=drandreospina

 

Vertical Circles from the Prone Lying Position

Face down the scapula have to work a bit harder against gravity.  This can be helpful to get the necessary feedback needed to ‘figure out’ retraction, but it makes the circular control somewhat more difficult.

 

CLOSED CHAIN

The vector or direction of desired movement must get factored into the equation in a closed kinetic chain.  Below the user desired lateral assistance, so he anchored his arm in that plane of motion.

 

Vertical propping (user is settled between boxes)

 

Vertical hanging

 

The ability to control scapular movement axially in flexed and overhead movements can progress to extended challenges of control:

 

 

GUIDED CHAIN

Guided chain movements use a method of assistance to  give the brain a set of instructions as to HOW a movement should be performed.  

Roller guided scapular elevation and depression

 

Wall guided vertical circles

 

TO REVIEW

  • Properly functioning open chain movement is the end goal to movement training
  • Open chain movement allows the hands or feet to move freely in space
  • Closed chain movement fixes the hands or feet to an immovable surface
  • Closed chain movement adds a stability factor to improve mobility
  • Closed chain movement progresses to guided chain movement (which progresses to open chain movement)
  • Improving joint control is based on a neurological feedback loop
  • Gravity can be manipulated to provide feedback in open chain movements
  • Direction of pull or push can be manipulated to provide feedback in closed chain movement
  • The shoulder blade moves easiest when the shoulder socket is centered axially

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