Why We Need to Teach Clients to Stabilize the Scapula


The principle of scapular stabilization is a new one for many clients. Frequently, people don’t realize that their shoulder blade just floats on top of their ribcage and has no bony attachments directly to their ribs or spine.

Explaining the importance of scapular stability will help clients protect themselves from injury and maximize their workouts.

Here are a few tips to help bring scapular awareness into your sessions:

1. Start by talking about the scapula or shoulder blade during the warm up while your client can feel the 6 different movements that it can make: Elevation, Depression, Protraction, Retraction, Upward Rotation, and Downward Rotation. Just talking about the scapula will increase your clients awareness of their bodies and they will begin to feel it moving along the rib cage even if they have never felt it before.

2. Allow them to find the position of a stable or neutral scapula by lifting the arms to the ceiling and then slowly sliding the shoulder blades slightly down and and in toward the spine in a “V” shape. The client must feel that there is width at the chest; the shoulders are not rounded forward and the scapula are not squeezed too close to the spine.

3. Deepen their knowledge by naming the muscles that stabilize the scapula. You must be able to gauge your client, for some this will be too much information but other clients will be hungry for more understanding of their bodies. The 4 muscles most commonly referred to as “scapular stabilizers” are the: Serratus Anterior, Middle Trapezius, Lower Trapezius, and Rhomboids. (The “Lats” or Latissimus Dorsi also play a big role synergistically.)

4. Palpate the scapular stabilizing muscles on your client so they have the tactile sensation of where the muscle is and how it feels to activate it.

Any client that wants to continue with Pilates will become accustomed to hearing the cue to stabilize their scapula, and taking the time in their early sessions to learn, feel and discuss the basic principles will give your clients confidence as they move on to group classes or more advanced exercises.


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