5 Scapular Stabilization Exercises for Strong Shoulders

Medically reviewed by Mark R Laflamme, MD on January 6, 2016Written by Alex White on January 6, 2016
shoulder exercises

If I asked you to name three muscles connected to your scapula, could you?

Don’t worry, I won’t ask! Not surprisingly though, most people can’t tell you why it’s even important to have good scapular stability.

Having complete control of that little triangular bone just behind your shoulders is an important part of completing daily movements. We often don’t realize its importance until we lose it.

If you’ve ever had trouble raising your arms over your head, brushing your teeth, or even supporting yourself in getting up off the floor, the following exercises may be a great place to start.

With the concept of developing a general injury prevention routine, we’ve arranged these five exercise to be completed with minimal equipment. They can be completed just about anywhere!

ITYWs

Complete 2 to 3 sets for 15 seconds each, in all four positions.

  1. Lay on the floor facedown, with your arms at your sides.

  2. Without moving anything other than your arms, complete the following:
    1. I: Hands at hips, palms up, thumbs towards your thighs, fluttering up and down.

    2. T: Hold hands out to the sides to create a “T” with your body. Flutter your arms up and down with palms facing toward the ground.

    3. Y: Hold arms up in a “Y” position and flutter your arms up and down with palms down.

    4. W: From the “Y” position, pull your arms into the body leading with the elbows finishing at your sides to create a “W.” Extend both arms forward back to the starting “Y” position and repeat.

Scapular pushups

Complete 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.

  1. Stand at a wall with hands placed on the wall, chest height and shoulder-width apart.

  2. Keep the arms locked out and palms flat on the wall.

  3. Without bending your arms, reach with your sternum towards the wall until both shoulder blades come together in the back.

  4. Driving through both hands evenly, push the sternum away from the wall until both scapula open up and your upper back is slightly rounded, then repeat.

Band pull aparts

Do 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions with a light band.

  1. Stand tall with two hands facing each other about shoulder-width apart, and one longer band in both hands under no tension.

  2. Pull the band apart with both arms to the sides as wide as possible, staying about shoulder height.

  3. Slowly allow both arms to come back together, controlling the pull of the band until hands return back to their starting position and repeat.

Wall ball circles

Do 2 to 3 sets and 12 to 15 repetitions on each arm in each direction with an 8-pound medicine ball.

  1. Stand facing a flat wall.

  2. With feet shoulder-width apart, extend one hand forward and press a medicine ball up against the wall with a flat palm about shoulder height off the ground. Don’t let the ball drop!

  3. Using your palm only, roll the ball around in small circles both clockwise and counter clockwise.

Advanced stability ball pushups

Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions at body weight.

  1. Start in a pushup position with both hands centered on a stability ball and both feet about hip-width apart on the floor.

  2. Bracing your core tight, lower yourself down to touch the chest to the ball.

  3. On an exhale, stabilize the stability ball and press back to the starting position.

The takeaway

Incorporating these five exercises in to your program is a surefire way to help create a group of strong scapular stabilizers.

Complete this routine on its own or add it to an existing set of workouts. These exercises can be done as the preventive part to your daily training routine or as part of a warmup. Ensure that everything is turned on before you start, listen to your body, and push it to the comfort limit.

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