Scapular winging is a condition wherein the shoulder blade moves excessively away from its normal position on the thoracic region of the back. This can cause pain and weakness as well as loss of function and can be a problem cosmetically. The causes of scapular winging are numerous. The most common cause is weakness of the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder blade. The scapula is the attachment site for many muscles which work in conjunction to move the arm in space and also to stabilize the arm for heavy lifting or weight bearing. When these muscle are weak, damaged or out of balance, they can lose the ability to hold the shoulder blade in place. The result is winging. When the scapula is out of position, the shoulder cannot function optimally, leading to loss of strength and ROM and sometimes pain.
There are a few simple exercises which, if done regularly can help this condition. Lying on your back with your arms straight up, practice punching your arms farther up towards the ceiling. Keep your elbows locked out straight the entire time. You should feel your shoulder blades moving up off the floor and the muscles along the sides of your mid-back contracting. Repeat 20-30 times without pain and progress to a light hand weight when this becomes easy.
Next we will stretch out the tight pectoral muscles. Find a corner of a room that has some free space. If not, you can use an open doorway. Bring your forearms or hands to the walls or to the door frame out to your sides. Arms should be higher than shoulder height. Now lean your body forward towards the corner or into the doorway until you feel a stretch across your chest. Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
If done consistently, these exercises can reduce scapular winging. See your MD or PT if symptoms persist.
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