By, Sean Light CSCS
When assessing athlete’s movement patterns, scapular mobility, especially in baseball, is critical to the health of the athlete. In today’s world, we see athletes who are upper trapezius dominant. We see athletes with protracted scaps and we see athletes with a number of dysfunctions in their shoulders. As strength and conditioning coaches, we must develop ways to correct the impairments. For protracted shoulders we may assign soft tissue work to the pecs and extra pull exercises and for upper trap dominant athletes we need to strengthen the lower and middle traps.
In the Volume 26 of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, a study is published examining the proper intensities to use when targeting certain scapular muscles. For example, if we are looking to gain lower trap strength, according to the study, we may prescribe a prone abduction regimen with a high intensity.
In the study, seven exercises were measured. The shoulder press, one arm row, push-up plus, press up, prone abduction, prone flexion and a ring fallout.
The muscles studied in this examination were Serratus Anterior as well as the Upper, Middle and Lower Trapezius.
Maximum Serratus activity was recorded during high intensity push-up pluses and high and low intensity shoulder presses.
The most Upper Trap activity was measured during high intensity shoulder press and high intensity prone abduction.
Lower Trap was most targeted during high intensities of prone abduction and low intensities of the press-up.
Finally the Middle Trap was most active during a high intensity one arm row; however the drop off to the low intensity row was minimal.
A lot of times, as strength coaches, we are limited in the time we can work with our athletes, so it is imperative to select the most effective and efficient exercises in order to get the most out of our sessions.
SOURCE: Andersen, Chrisoffer H., Zebis, Mette K., Saervoll, Charlotte, Sundstrup, Emil, Jakobsen, Markus D., Sjogaard, Gisela, Andersen, Lars L., “Scapular Muscle Activity From Selected Strengthening Exercises Performed At Low and High Intensities.”, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Volume 26, Number 9, September 2012