Fixing a Winged Shoulder Blade

Fixing a winged shoulder blade can be one of the most challenging things to accomplish. Depending on the severity of the case. You might not realize that  An unstable shoulder blade can be the cause of shoulder pain, wrist pain, and even trap/neck pain.

 

The main job of your shoulder blade is to stabilize the shoulder when you move your arm. Without this stability, the shoulder joint is under great stress.

How can you know if you have stability on your shoulder blade?

The first part of answering that question is to observe the movement of the shoulder blade when you move your arm:

As you move your shoulder overhead it should do 2 things:

  1. It should Rotate up and to the side
  2. It also should Stay securely in the back:

You should not see the bone “come out” or protrude with any movement like push-ups, overhead movements or by putting your hand on your back.  see here

One common root cause of chronic shoulder pain comes from the shoulder blade not providing the support that is needed.

Besides shoulder pain, other symptoms of instability are a shoulder blade that “clunks”, or moves out of place. At times these painless clues are red flags that stability, more than mobility is needed.

An unstable shoulder blade will eventually lead to shoulder pain, wrist pain and even trap/neck pain.


How can we re-train shoulder blade movement?

Re-training your shoulder blade movement can be challenging depending on how much of the movement is compromised, how long have you had the problem, and how often are you loading the shoulder.

Nevertheless, it can be done even in the most challenging cases.

The key to fixing the problem lies in the ability to teach the body how to contract the right muscles to move the blade into the right direction.

We do this with 3 important steps:

  1. We adjust the spine, and sometimes the rib cage to decrease pain and improve the joint position of the mid back. A “hunched” posture leads to poor shoulder blade function.

  2. To help improve the right movement of the shoulder blade with overhead movements we can use a muscle stimulator like a Russian stim or Power Dot:

The muscle stimulator helps contract the muscle to secure the blade into position as it moves through the range of motion.

This is a great way to warm up before rehabilitation exercises or overhead movements. The idea is to help create the “right sensation” of how the shoulder blade should move to secure/stabilize the shoulder.

 

  1. We start with simple exercises that ensure the correct movement. This is very important because it is pretty easy to make the problem worse with exercises that “should” help but make it worse.

Everyone is different. Keep in mind that an exercise that might work for a patient might not work so well for you.