Scapula winging is one of those ‘niggles’ that almost every trainer or fitness professional will be aware of, and will almost certainly have had a client complain of.
However, what do we really mean by this?
Scapula winging is a description of ‘gapping’ occurring between the shoulder blade (scapula) and the posterior aspect (the back) of the ribcage, as opposed to sitting flush against it. We tend to most frequently determine this visually, observing what happens at the shoulder blade as the client moves their upper arm in various planes (usually to overhead positions either forwards or out to the side). We know that healthy shoulders require the shoulder blade to sit snugly against the ribcage, ad remind there as we move – so if it doesn’t then there must be a problem with the shoulder blade right?
Not necessarily !
As an industry we often make the incorrect assumption that our (or our clients) torso is ‘neutral’, and that everything else should be measured against, or move in relation to that. However – that is not always the case – when there is space occurring between object A and object B we cannot always assume that it is always A that has moved away from B, it may be the other way around, or it may also be both!
Movement is always relative, and although a shoulder blade can move back away from a ribcage – it is actually highly unlikely, and would usually be accompanied by a neurological issue or injury to the long thoracic nerve. What is much more commonplace is the relative forward movement of the back of the ribcage, which occurs when the thoracic spine (upper back) is in an extended and flattened position, rather than its more natural kyphosis (curved dome)
This video gives an intro to my approach to scapula winging, and why its more a case of getting the ribcage back, than truing to push the shoulder blade forwards