It’s not necessary to know 100% of your shoulder movement all-around to be better at it, or even master it. Yet a good basic knowledge of the know-hows of the shoulder can be very beneficial from the complete beginner to the seasoned fitness enthusiast.

Today we will dive deeper into movements of the scapula, a part of the shoulder girdle. You already use it in everyday life, but let’s see how we can actively improve it. Additionally, if you have the opportunity, working with a good coach that has a good understanding and can instruct you clearly on how to go about training your shoulders will lead to further development of your shoulder health.The shoulder blades (also known as the scapulars) is the largest bone structure in your shoulders and it helps with moving your shoulders in multiple planes.

So here is a simple rundown of six of the basic Scapula Movements:

1. Scapula Elevation

In the case of Scapula Elevation, your shoulder blades move upwards, or in a simpler sense the action of shrugging your shoulders to your ears. The main muscles involved would be the trapezius, levator scapulae, and rhomboid muscles (the smaller muscles that start at the base of your neck to the base of your shoulders, your trapezius).

Mainly involved in movements such as reaching overhead, handstands and olympic weightlifting.

2. Scapula Depression

Depression of your shoulders comes from the action of pushing your shoulders away from your ears .The depression of the scaps comes from the force of gravity in addition to the the actions of the  main muscles involved in this Latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, and the trapezius muscles.

Mainly performed in movements such as your L-sits and Ring Muscle ups!

3. Scapula Protraction

The Protraction of the shoulder blades is when they separate from each other— or a slight rounding of the shoulders forward. Typically a cornerstone of ALL of your pushing movements, bringing the shoulder blades away from each other helps you contract the chest and core better. Main movers of this action comes from the serratus anterior, pectoralis major, and pectoralis minor muscles.

Mainly done through your Push-ups.

4. Scapular Retraction

Retraction of your shoulder comes in the action of pinching the shoulder blades together. The pinch or “pulling” of it together is moved by the actions of the trapezius, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi muscles, typically the fundamental activation needed for all of your pulling work.

Mainly seen in pull-ups, rowing, front lever and even bench presses require a great deal of retraction to be efficient and safe.

5. Scapula Upward Rotation

Scapula Upward Rotation is accomplished by the trapezius and serratus anterior muscles. This is when you bring your arm overhead such as when you try to scratch your upper back

This would be seen in any movement that requires the arms to be overhead.

6. Scapula downward rotation

This movement is accomplished by the force of gravity as well as the latissimus dorsi, levator scapulae, rhomboids, and the pectoralis major and minor muscles.

This would be seen in any movement that requires the arms to move in a downward direction, such as the arms coming down towards the hips.

These basic but inherently important components of your scapula training is important to better understanding of the upper body and the more advanced skills performed in calisthenics. Take some time throughout your day and when you train to be aware of what position your scapulas are in.

In our shoulder mobility classes — we provide clear and detailed progressions. Wherever you are in your fitness journey, our mobility classes will help bring your joints to a healthier, flexible and stronger state that is ready for life — and more.