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Finding Your Rhythm…Scapulohumeral Rhythm

By July 17, 2012June 12th, 2019Physiotherapy, Sports Physiotherapy

As we have mentioned previously the shoulder is a very dynamic and therefore fairly unstable joint. The shoulder blade (scapula) is often neglected when looking at the shoulder but plays a very important role as the base for all this movement.

For optimal shoulder function the scapula needs to move in a smooth controlled pattern, this is referred to as the scapulohumeral rhythm.  The picture below shows how when you lift your arm the scapula needs to rotate around to allow full movement above your head. Without this controlled movement you can get shoulder impingement.

Whether you are trying to prevent shoulder injury, or are recovering from one, training the scapular stabilising muscles is essential to ensure smooth scapulohumeral rhythm. The coordinated movement of the scapula actually requires the firing of 36 muscles in perfect sequence (did we mention the shoulder was a complex joint!?), however, the trapezius and serratus anterior are the two main muscles involved in positioning the scapula optimally.


So how do you get your rhythm back?

Correct ‘setting’ of the scapula can be hard to learn especially as it can be difficult to see what’s going on back there. Your physiotherapist can help with facilitating the correct muscle activation in the early stages and sometimes taping the scapula into position can kick start the correct muscles activation. Once you’ve got the knack, home exercises starting as simple as pulling your shoulders back while sitting (just like your mum always said), can be gradually progressed into weight bearing and sport specific exercises. Your scapulohumeral rhythm will become smooth and coordinated making your shoulder movement pain free and allowing a solid base to start getting more power back into your shoulder.





Bend + Mend

Bend + Mend has been providing Sydney’s CBD with Physiotherapy and Pilates services since 2003. We have 4 great locations in Martin Place, Barangaroo, Darling Park and Circular Quay, all with private rooms and specialised one-on-one care. We also have Sydney CBD’s best-loved Physios who have helped over 10,000 people recover from pain and injury.

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