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  • Writer's pictureAndray Voronov

Shoulder stability and its role in overhead exercises

How important are scapular stability and rotator cuff strength when performing overhead exercises like the barbell snatch, barbell jerks, and military press?

The shoulder blade (scapula) and the rotator cuff muscles are vital for control and stability in overhead motions. The risk of injury rises, and performance suffers, if these parts aren't up to snuff.

What makes scapular stability so vital for above-head movements?

When performing overhead motions, the scapula plays a vital role in the kinetic chain. The shoulder is an important part of the musculoskeletal system because it acts as a pivot point for the arm, allowing it to move freely while transferring force from the upper body to the core. Poor mechanics, less power, and an increased risk of shoulder and rotator cuff injuries can all stem from a scapula that is not stable.

When doing overhead motions, what function do the rotator cuff muscles serve?

Four muscles make up the rotator cuff, which connects the upper arm to the shoulder blade. They help maintain the arm's position during overhead activities and contribute to shoulder stability. In order to perform at one's best and avoid injury while performing overhead motions, one must have a robust rotator cuff.

How does scapular and rotator cuff weakness or instability affect functionality?

The shoulder's mechanics, power output, and range of motion can all suffer from rotator cuff and scapular weakness or instability. This can increase the likelihood of shoulder injury and reduce the utility of exercises that require movement above the head.

How can I strengthen my rotator cuff and scapula to increase my shoulder's stability?

Specific strengthening and stability exercises should be incorporated into your training regimen to improve scapular stability and rotator cuff strength. Examples of such activities could be:

Scap push-ups

Face pulls

Banded pull-aparts

The Lock 3 shoulder sequence

Bottom up kettlebell presses

Turkish get ups

Weakness or instability in these regions may also be caused by muscle imbalances or postural problems, which must be addressed.

In sum, the ability to maintain scapular stability and have strong rotator cuffs are critical for successful overhead movements and to avoid injury. Overhead performance can be improved by including targeted strengthening and stability exercises in your training regimen.


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  • Kibler, W. B., Press, J., & Sciascia, A. (2006). The role of the scapula in athletic shoulder function. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 34(2), 364-372.

  • McClure, P., Michener, L. A., Sennett, B. J., & Karduna, A. R. (2007). Scapular muscle recruitment patterns: a comparison of healthy shoulders and shoulders with symptoms of rotator cuff tear. Physical therapy, 87(3), 292-302.

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