Ok, so we’re back at addressing your shoulder pain, by progressing your pain-free movements with the “scapular set”

This is our second post on educating you to correct certain imbalances in the shoulder from using static positions and dynamic movements. If you experience pain while performing push-ups, supine bench pressing, supine dumbbell presses, or overhead dumbbell, or barbell presses, this post will help you correct  your shoulder position, which for the most part is the main contributing factor as why you’re experiencing pain in the first place. If you still experience pain while performing the most remedial of these progressions, stop immediately, and contact me directly at :  jean@ancasterpersonaltraining,com.

I’d be happy to answer any questions  you might have, or, if you live in our area, I would be glad to treat you and help resolve your condition.

What I”ve found over the years is that a lot of the strength and conditioning practionners  or inexperienced personal trainers that my clients have worked with, attempted to intervene in this situation by recommending exercises to immediately recruit your scapular retractors (shoulders back) or in the attempt to reposition the shoulder.  Now, in a lot of cases, this is half of the equation.  A forward-rounded shoulder posture is created and maintained by the adaptive shortening of the front-chain muscles that are predominantly used in exercise programs.  These exercises might include, dumbbell pec flyes, bench pressing, floor crunches, sit-ups, oblique twists, or any type of flexion-dominant work where the rectus abdominus has to create movement in the rib cage. Exercise programs such as Pilates also tend to concentrate much of their muscle recruitment and movement patterns with spinal flexion patterns irrespective of their client’s static posture measurements.

You may also possess a forward-rounded shoulder posture without an exercise creation by having weak abdominals, osteoporosis, a pronounced slump in your thoracic spine (Dowager’s hump) or any congenital factors that compromise your spine or hips.  To keep things simple, I will address the issue of possessing short and tight muscles in the front (anterior) chain that literally pull you into slumped-static rounded position.

Our first of point of intervention is to elongate and create improved extensibility or flexibility in the front chain muscles. Again, this includes the pecs, the abdominals, the anterior deltoids (shoulders) etc.

Our second point of intervention is to use the Doorway Slide stretch to address elongating the tight musculature along the front chain.

  • Bend your elbows at  your sides below your shoulder level.
  • Take a deep belly-breathe, and exhale.
  • Upon the exhalation, push from your back foot (right) and focus on pushing your sternum (breastbone) forward and hence imposing a stretch into the pecs and intercostal muscles that are tight and short.(second image). Hold your stretch position for about 5 seconds.
  • Apply about 5 to 7 breaths per position of your arms relative to your shoulder height.
  • Only approach a more elevated position overhead without pain, and good sense of your scapular set.
  • Shift the tension from your rear foot by pushing forward, this will allow you take in a sufficient breathe, and then take up the slack from the breathe by then stretching into the exhale.

After you have completed 5 to 7 breath cycles, you should feel it easier to take in a deeper breath, as well as allowing your shoulder blades (scapula) to be directed back and down (Post-Video 1).

The third intervention point is to now take the new flexibility that you’ve created from the Doorway Wall slides and integrate this flexibility by recruiting your scapular muscles to reposition your shoulder blades “back and down”.  By setting your scapulae in this fashion, your are opening up the critical space from which the tendons of the rotator cuff traverse and potentially are being impinged within.  This space opening and repositioning has been shown to alleviate the pain created by the exercises that exacerbate  your symptoms.

Overhead Press with Scapular Setting.

Once you have completed your doorway slide stretching, you have now hopefully relieved some of the tension in the pecs,  and rib cage musculature in order to use the less dominant activators of your scapular muscles (lower and trapezius muscles) and position your scapulae “back and down”.  This also directly places your gleno-humeral joint more in line with your ear. For the person who has been suffering from forward-rounded shoulder syndrome, this realignment, is an understated blessing!

  • Start in a staggered stance.
  • Bring your arms into a “deep-W” ( elbows bent beyond 90 degrees, and elbows close to the sides of your rib cage).
  • To commence, take a deep breath, and upon your exhale, drop your scapulae into a back and downward direction.
  • From this position, start to press your arms overhead and adjust your scapulae along the way using your new mantra “back and down” go the shoulders!!
  • Usually the tightest and toughest position for most people is in a complete lock-out overhead (see image to the right) Your  scapular muscles will need much practice in this short and tight position to get the scapular set position and your adjustment in this position will be relatively minor.







Practice this sequence for a couple of weeks:

  1. Doorway slides stretches 5 to 7 breaths per stretch.
  2. Overhead presses (without load) to a lock-out position. If you feel pain during the range of motion towards the lock-out, immediately adjust that side of your scapula, back and down, and see if this reduces your paIn?
  3. If the repositioning doesn’t improve your painful impingement, then you may need to consult a healthcare professional and have your shoulder condition assessed.

If you have any questions about the exercises please email me at :  jean@ancasterpersonaltraining.com, and you can always visit us at:  www.ancasterpersonaltraining.com for more information, and you can also follow us on Facebook at Spectrum Therapy and Fitness.


Yours in health and fitness,

Jean LaFleur     Rkin, CAT(c), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Pn1, P.I.C.P-Level 1, FMS-1, B.HK, Dip SIM

Spectrum Therapy and Fitness









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