Scapula Placement: A Quick Fix to Your Posture

Your scapulas, or shoulder blades, are a crucial component to good posture. The muscles around the scapulas help stabilize them, giving you an overall appearance of having broader collar bones and more relaxed shoulders. Scapular placement is one of STOTT Pilates Five Basic Principles. The other four Principles are:  breathing, imprint, rib cage placement, and head placement.

Head placement is the only topic I haven’t covered yet, so the other words are linked to the articles that describe how to correctly do them. If you have not read the other articles and are not sure what these words mean, please take the time to go check them out. The Five Basic Principle are building blocks for the neutral posture that you will want to maintain throughout your Pilates workout, so please check them out. Also, if you’re interested in assessing your own posture, check out my article, “Assess and Improve Your Posture.”

Scapula placement

  1. neutral scapulasTo work on scapula placement, you can be on your hands and knees, lying on your back, or sitting up. In the pictures, I’m sitting up, so those are the directions I will use. Take a comfortable seat and reach your arms straight in front of your shoulders. You should feel energy through your arms to keep them straight. Keeping your arms straight will help you better access and feel the muscles around your scapula. Feel your scapulas on your back and your shoulders relaxed away from your ears.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Seated scapular protraction
  2. Let your shoulder blades slide to the sides of your rib cage. The arms reach in front of you as you do this. It is worth noting that your shoulders should not move up or down; they should remain neutral. This movement of the scapulas is called protraction. It is the act of the scapulas moving away from the midline of the body. Now, bring the scapulas back to neutral.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   scapular retraction
  3. Gently slide the shoulder blades toward the spine. This is called retraction. Again, notice that the shoulders neither raise up nor lower down; they stay in a neutral position. This movement will feel substantially smaller when compared to protraction, so don’t try to make them be an even amount of movement. Come back to neutral.

Here is a quick video to show you more.

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When you think about where your scapulas are on your back, what does your posture look like? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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