Scapular Mobility – Shoulder Blade Circles

If you feel pain or tightness in your neck and back, or if certain back exercises are tough for you, scapular mobility is a great place to start gaining mobility. The shoulder blades are capable of being highly mobile bones, but with today’s demands they often fuse together with the rib cage and severely limit mobility. When this happens, the muscles between the neck and shoulder blades can get tight and aggravated, resulting in neck pain.

Even athletes can benefit from scapular mobility because conventional strength training fails to address the movement capabilities of the scapula. We often lie on benches or fasten ourselves into machines to lift weights and that keeps the shoulder blades relatively still. Realizing how mobile these bones are meant to be shows us just how important it can be to explore and build upon the range of motion of our shoulder blades.

Shoulder blade circles are a great way to loosen up. The first drill shown here can be done standing or sitting, right at your desk! Note that the harder these are for you in terms of coordination, the more crucial they are to your program, especially if this is your first time doing this movement. Instructions for shoulder blade circles:

Stand or sit up straight, with a high chest and neutral spine

Remember to breathe deeply throughout the movement

Move SLOWLY and in a controlled fashion, seeking to stabilize the shakiness

Bring shoulder blades together and slide them up towards your head, then apart towards your sides and down towards your hips. Repeat 3x and reverse directions.

The second drill can be done the exact same way, but in a quadruped position (all fours/hands and knees)

Both of these drills have helped me a lot to eliminate neck tension as well as loosen up my back and improve my posture. Improving your posture can be a slow process, it’s a never-ending journey but it is highly rewarding! Try involving these in your warmup or every day with a general mobility plan and enjoy the mobility gains in your neck and back!