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Learn How to do Scapular Stabilization Exercises


Updated June 04, 2014

Shoulder pain can be, well, a pain. It can limit your ability to use your arm normally and raise your arm overhead. Shoulder pain can prevent you from performing everyday tasks like putting away dishes or groceries, dressing, or combing your hair.

Occasionally when you have shoulder pain, you may have weakness or loss of range of motion around your shoulder. But when things are not moving right in the shoulder, many people come up with compensatory strategies to lift their arm, or arms, overhead. Often, patients develop what we physical therapists call a "scapular dominant pattern" in their scapulohumeral rhythm. This is just a fancy way of saying that you are using your shoulder blade and the muscles around it, and not your shoulder joint, to lift your arm.

Lifting your arm overhead is a complex task. It takes the coordination of many muscles around your shoulder and shoulder blade. These muscles work together to help you lift your arm overhead. When an injury occurs to the shoulder, pain, weakness, or thightness may prevent normal scapulohumeral rhythm from occurring.

If you visit a physical therapist for treatment of your shoulder pain, most likely he or she will prescribe exercises to help your condition. Exercises to gain control of your shoulder blade may be prescribed to restore normal scapulohumeral rhythm. These exercises are simple to perform at home and include the prone row and the I-T-Y exercises. You can learn all about them in this easy step-by-step guide to scapular stabilization.

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