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Old 02-23-2011
RadSwim RadSwim is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Texas, USA
Posts: 201
Default Scapular stability

Links to this article on were recently published on the USMS discussion forum.

The article is a concise lesson on strengthening scapular stabilizers.

The exercises illustrated are widely used in the treatment of swimmer's shoulder and its prevention.

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Old 02-23-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 2,453

RadSwim, Thanks for the link. I posted on your thread in the above forum as well. my TI swimming has continued to progress, I feel that my posterior delts & rhomboids are becoming stronger and more toned...not due to specific focus on that area, but due to focusing on the specifics of TI that allow me to swim with less stress on the shoulders, proper recovery arm without over extension of the shoulder (causing winging of the scaplula and stretching of the anterior muscles of the rotator cuff & deltoid), etc.

While the exercises in the article may look "familiar" to a lot of people, most are not familiar with the movement of the scapula during their freestyle stroke. Anyone who is able to become more attuned to how the scapula slides arounnd the ribcage and assists with the stroke is going to be a better swimmer.
Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Level 3 USAT Coach
USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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Old 02-23-2011
terry terry is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,305
terry has disabled reputation

I've done exercises like those for many years, and long considered 'stabilizing the scapula' via land exercise essential to avoiding shoulder pain.

However in recent years, as my stroke mechanics have continued a decades-long progress toward intrinsic stabilization -- i.e. inherent in the movement, not the result of therapeutic exercise -- I've had to rely far less on such exercise, which used to be a staple for me.

And I do have an unstable left shoulder. I can feel and hear it move in undesirable ways in a variety of routine daily activities. This is the result of a rotator cuff tear in that shoulder from an auto accident in 1997. Because of that instability, even with impeccably-stable technique I do get shoulder pain from time to time.

But I've learned that pain is a result of knots in the scapular and sub-scapular region which results from those muscles having to compensate for structural instability in the shoulder.

When I get massage, it's virtually always focused on there. When the therapist gets into one of those scapular knots, there's a real fire in there -- and I feel referred pain in the precise spot where my shoulder has been hurting.

Once the knot is released my shoulder pain goes away.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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Old 03-14-2011
CoachBillL CoachBillL is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 62
Default Questions on scapular stability

I have two questions on the above:

Suzanne, how might one "become more attuned to how the scapula slides around the ribcage"? I really have no idea that it does, or how to be aware of it.

Terry, do you work on "intrinsic scapular stability" as a goal in itself, or does it happen while you're doing everything else?

I ask because of have spent many hours in physical therapy, learning and doing all of those exercises, and am still not sure they actually work.
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