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Balancing Shoulder Mechanics to Prevent Injury

The serratus anterior (SA) and trapezius play important roles in moving and stabilizing the scapula during upper extremity motion, according to research—Serratus Anterior and Upper Trapezius Electromyographic Analysis of the Push-Up Plus Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis—which appeared in the November 2019 issue of the Journal of Athletic Training.

The serratus anterior – a muscle that originates on the surface of the 1st to 8th ribs at the side of the chest and inserts along the entire anterior length of the medial border of the scapula – acts to pull the scapula forward around the thorax.

“Serratus anterior weakness is often present in overhead athletes and can result in shoulder dysfunction due to altered scapular kinematics, such as winging and tipping,” notes the research.

The trapezius—a diamond-shaped, flat, triangular muscle located on each side of the upper back—functions as a shoulder stabilizer with the serratus anterior and the rhomboids. The trapezius moves the scapula and supports the arm.

In overhead throwing athletes there typically is an intramuscular imbalance between the SA and upper trapezius (UT). It appears that push-up plus exercise strengthens the SA, while minimally activating the UT.

Push-Up Plus Exercise:

Get down on your hands and feet in push-up position. Spread your feet and bring your hands together making a diamond with your hands. Rotating only at your shoulder blades, lower your chest 3-6 inches and then back up again. Repeat motion for the desired amount of repetitions.

Remember, you should always consult your physician before beginning any exercise, diet, or nutritional supplementation program.

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