6 Essential Shoulder Insights


With this week’s release of Tony Gentilcore and Dean Somerset’s Complete Hip and Shoulder Blueprint, here are five valuable takeaways from this priceless resource.


1) The scapula requires “Controlled Mobility” (Sue Falsone)

The joint-by-joint approach, introduced to us by Grey Cook and Mike Boyle, demonstrates that there is an alternating pattern of mobility and stability starting at the ankle and going up the body. The interplay between the scapula and humerus is a unique one where they work together to create scapulohumeral rhythm. This rhythm helps people get overhead in a safe manor but also requires their ability to control mobility of the scapula and humerus, especially during the eccentric portion.


 2) Lay off heavy serratus work for people who present with heavily protracted scapulae

*Abdcuted and downwardly rotated 

*Abdcuted and downwardly rotated 

The serratus anterior is a muscle that is largely responsible for the protraction of the scapula. Meaning that it has the ability to pull the scapula forward and around the rib cage. If someone is already protracted forward look to decrease the volume on direct serratus work and hand it off to both the lower and upper traps responsible for elevation and upward rotation of the scapula. Lets take a look at these two exercises. Both promote upward rotation of the scapula which is awesome, but each has the power to call upon and shut off specific muscles that are involved with upward rotation. Lets take a look.


Forearm Wall Slides with overhead shug  

(Abducted, downwardly rotated)

This exercises selection would be appropriate for an individual who presents with protracted and downwardly rotated scapula (see photo 1). This corrective calls upon more responsibility from the upper and lower traps to help nudge the scapula into an optimal position to achieve upward rotation while keeping the serratus quiet.


Serratus Wall Slides:  (Military Posture)

Is a fantastic exercise to implement when an athlete presents with retracted scapulas that essential “over crowd” the spine. The serratus anterior is a really big player in making sure the scapula stays snug around the rib cage while going up over head. Just as a quick reminder we don’t want any upper trap involved here (its sitting the bench). The big players on the field doing most of the work are lower traps and serratus anterior.

Just as a quick reminder you don’t HAVE to work on all three muscles that upwardly rotate the scapula (upper and lower traps, serratus anterior). Depending on a individuals work, sport, and day to day activities the body has the ability to adapt to it’s environment causing specific changes to occur especially at the scapulothoracic joint. Pay attention to visual hints during the assessment (asymmetries between shoulder height, overly active upper traps, lack of upper traps, lack of rhythm while going overhead) and this will give you a solid place to start


3) Highlight Scapular Borders

 The people you most likely will be assessing do not have a well-versed vocabulary involving every exercise science term. Meaning if you’re only going to throw around fancy verbiage you’re going to have a hard time successfully communicating what’s going on with them. When performing assessments take five minutes to draw out anatomical borders. It gives people a fantastic visual that creates context and helps people understand WHY they may be in pain or discomfort and offers clues on how to proceed. 



4) Use the push-up to gather valuable feedback

 The push-up is a great tool to uncover underlying weakness that may be causing an individual pain. When looking at someone performing a push-up you can gather essential insight on not only how the scapula moves or does not move along the rib cage but also the degree of lumbopelvic control the person has.  


5) Band work isn’t always the answer

The true role of your rotator cuff is to keep the humeral head centered in the glenoid fossa. When people jump to excessive band work in poor positions this can cause issues down the road. Look to use rhythmic stabilizations and variations of oscillations to challenge people to achieve stability using their rotator cuff while being disciplined enough to turn off  the bigger muscles that want to take over the cuff’s job (anterior deltoid, lats, biceps).






6) Getting stronger is a corrective

People tend to get caught up in performing hundreds of corrective drills to increase range of motion but then forget to cement this achieved range of motion through consistent strength training efforts. Get people to learn how to create tension, move some weight and you can make almost any exercise one that targets the whole body.





These essential insights are all covered in the new video resource from Dean Somerset and Tony Gentilcore. This series offers NSCA continuing education credits and is a must have resource for anyone wanting to help people get stronger, move better, and take their knowledge to the next level.

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