New (To You) Scapular Stabilization Exercises
I’m still in Europe.1
Today’s guest post comes courtesy of former CSP intern and now current rock-star PA based strength coach, Rob Rabena
Shoulder health is always a hot topic amongst baseball players and overhead athletes. To keep a healthy shoulder, there are a lot of variables that come into play.
Most of these variables are trainable.
Other factors such as pitching mechanics, sport stress, and life stress are hard for the strength coach to control and train. The goal of this post is to provide some new exercise variations to help keep the shoulder healthy – whether you get paid to throw a baseball 95MPH or if you’re Bob from Accounting.
I have always been a big fan of scapular isometric perturbations to train the scapular muscles. I usually do a standing ball to wall at different arm positions.
Lately I have been playing around with different lower body positions as well.
Check them out!
Half Kneeling and Standing Split Stance Ball to Wall Stabilizations
What Does It Do: Trunk and scapular control/stabilization.
Through an added manual isometric perturbation, the athlete needs to control the arm and trunk to not fall over or lose joint position.
This is a fantastic integrated scapular exercise where the athlete needs to not only control the entire body, but also the arm. This exercise helps maintain the head of the humerus in the socket. The athlete should feel the posterior shoulder during this exercise.
Key Coaching Cues:
- Don’t let me move you
- Open your fingers wide and feel the ball
- Feel your foot on the ground
- Left foot- Left outside heel and left big toe
- Right Foot- Press your arch into the ground
- Inhale and fully exhale before beginning
- Breathe throughout the exercise, don’t hold your breath
- Reach arm, don’t over pull the scapula down and back
- I usually place the athlete at end ranges of the shoulder
Science and Research:
Oliver et. al. (2016) found that in the lunge position (the TGU and prone I) had significantly greater serratus anterior EMG compared to other exercises.
A greater EMG during this position is most likely from the scapulae in protraction.
Protraction or reaching can do wonders for shoulder health, scapular health and position of the ribcage. Always take in consideration that EMG studies are not the end all be all when it comes to exercise selection.
Who Should Use It:
Any overhead athlete such as baseball, tennis, swimming, softball and volleyball would be recommended. This can be used to help prevent any future injuries with anyone who has a history of shoulder problems or pathologies.
2-4 sets of 10-15sec or until athlete fatigues or technique/position is lost.
I would suggest that the half kneeling position can be used at times as a regression to the standing ball to wall variation. The standing Split Stance variation is definitely a progression due to the narrow base of support and difficulty of the exercise.
See the list below to help with program design as well as for training floor regressions and progressions.
Quadruped: Ball on Ground
Standing: Ball to Wall
Half Kneeling: Open Chain Variation
- Quadruped ball on ground
- Half kneeling ball to wall
- Standing ball to wall
- Standing split stance ball to wall
- Supine off a table
- Open Chain Variations
When training the shoulder or scapular muscles, be sure to mix up and progress lower body position when utilizing a manual isometric perturbation.
Gretchen D. Oliver, H. A. (2016, March). Electromyographic Analysis of Traditional and Kinetic Chain Exercises for Dynamic Shoulder Movements. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Rob Rabena, MS, CSCS, is the Director of Sports Performance at Maplezone Sports Institute (MSI) in Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania, where he trains high school, college and professional baseball athletes.
Prior to joining MSI, he was the head strength & conditioning coach at Cabrini College, working with their nationally ranked lacrosse team. In addition to his work at Cabrini, he completed an internship at Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts in 2012.
Rabena earned his B.S. in Exercise Science with a focus on Health Promotion from Cabrini College in 2011, and his M.S. in Exercise Science with a focus on Strength and Conditioning from East Stroudsburg University in 2012. He is a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).