Movements of the Shoulder and Scapula, Focus: Shoulder Flexion and Extension

Mid Back Series – V2 Max Reformer Tower Combo

Did you know there are 8 movements of the Shoulder (Glenohumeral joint)? Here is the breakdown:

Horizontal Abduction
Horizontal Adduction
Lateral Rotation (External Rotation)
Medial Rotation (Internal Rotation)

There are 6 Movements of the Scapula

Abduction (Protraction)
Adduction (Retraction)
Upward Rotation
Downward Rotation

The scapula has to find a dynamic stability while moving the shoulder in the all the ranges of motion, depending on where the body is positioned in space and where the load or anchor point will directly influence in what direction the scapula needs to be placed.

The wrists and the hands are also a part of this chain of movement with the myofascia connections. How the wrist is rotated and the connection point of the fingers and palm into the strap or handles during Pilates exercises directly influences the of myofascia chain.

The bones that influence scapula and humeral movement are ribs, spine, clavicle, sternum, humerus, radius, ulna, all the bones in the hands.

As Pilates teachers we have to make an educated program to help the client with muscle & fascia imbalances, postural alignment, gait, expressive/functional movements, and interception and proprioception.

So where do you start?
I go back and look at each movement experience for the body. Since today’s blog is about the scapula and shoulder. Let’s break that down.

The video includes Pilates specific exercises that will load the muscle and fascia system to fire up the chain. Each client will be different, it’s up to you as a teacher to find out where the client’s weakness is and how to help them strengthen the fascia connection.

These are two different examples of how the angle of the reformer risers impact the fascia and muscle connection of the exercise.

Here’s why it’s so dynamic – I am working the mid back the entire time, the ropes never loose tension and the spring resistance starts at 50% tension then goes up to my full challenge point. When I start with tension and keep the tension, the fascia does not turn on and off creating patterns of stability and deeper embodiment.

#1 Arms Pressing Straight Down (shoulder extension)
The Set Up: Using the Merrithew V2 Max reformer tower combo – at riser height 7, the angle of resistance is coming from above. The length of the ropes are important – handles are in line with the top of the shoulder blocks (Preference: I like using handles for 90% of the arm work, the ones in the video by Gratz)
Legs at table top feet flexed or pointed, lower back is supported (I am in between neutral and imprint to maintain spine stability) Arms begin at 80 degree of shoulder flexion.
Spring: 1 Red Spring
Muscular Action: Arms press straight down to sides of body then return to 80 degrees of flexion. Scapula stabilizers and the action of shoulder extension which activates the lats, delts, triceps, and pec minor on concentric contraction.
Fascia: The arm fascia gets to deepen the connection and feel the eccentric work on shoulder flexion. Using handles allows me to wrap my fingers around the surface and press into the fingertips to more deeply active the fascia connection. Deep Front and superficial front lines to maintain the table top legs.
Bones: The scapula is weighted in this position by the ribs, there is very small amount of movement of the scapula in this position.

Arms Pulling Straight Down & Tricep Press on V2 Max Merrithew Reformer

#2 Triceps (extension of the elbow)
Setup: Reformer set up same as Arms Pressing Straight Down
Arms press down to begin then flex elbows
Spring: 1 Red
Muscular Action: Forearm extends towards the carriage and returns to 90 degrees. Stability of scapula and stability of humerus isometrically, action on concentric contraction triceps brachii and anconeus
Fascia: Arm fascia lines are active, to deepen the tricep connection press more into the pinkie and ring finger.
* If your reformer does not allow you to change the risers to a high point, try these exercises on the tower, spring board or cadillac

#3 Reverse Mid Back Series
Setup: Facing the risers, traditional set up (low), removed shoulder blocks
Legs at table top, spinal flexion, spine stabilized, scapula slightly protracted to accommodate spinal flexion
Spring: 1 Red
Muscular Action: Anterior deltoid, pectoralis major, coracobrachialis, biceps brachii short head
Fascia: Arm Lines, Deep front line and superficial front lines

#4 Bicep Curls
Setup: Facing the risers, traditional set up (low)
Legs at table top, spinal flexion, scapula slightly protracted to accommodate spinal flexion
Spring: 1 Red
Muscular Action: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis, pronator teres
Fascia: Arm Lines pressing into the thumb and first finger keep the connection of the palm into the handles, deep front line and superficial front line

Are you interested in learning more about the shoulder and how to break the Pilates Equipment exercises down to identify fasica and strength issues?

I would love to help. Email me for questions and to get in on my next webinar by joining my mailing list.

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