Muscle of the Month: Subscapularis

Ever find yourself with your shoulders shifted forward while you’re elbows-deep in a challenging task? Yep, us too. Lazy posture is an affliction that gets almost all of us, regardless of time spent honing and refining upper-body strength or stretching and elongating muscles. And the muscle that gets the short end of the stick is oftentimes the subscapularis, that mass of muscle that sits snugly behind your scapula on your upper back. 
 
Does this ring true? Make an appointment with us, and we’ll help you figure out exactly what’s going on!
 

Fun Facts About the Subscapularis
 

Your subscapularis originates at the medial border of your shoulder (meaning the inside) and inserts all the way down in the humerus. It’s a key player in throwing and even everyday motions like pulling a shirt over your head. Many patients that come in for treatment or massage are blown away by the relief they experience through myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and cupping. And, many times, when patients come to us with complaints of triceps or wrist problems we find the culprit to be none other than—yep, you guessed it: the subscapularis. 
 

Tips for a Happier Subscapularis
 

The good news: simple exercise and stretching can do away with an unhappy subscapularis! As an added bonus, you’ll likely be able to do it all with equipment you already have around the house. 
 

Strengthening:
 

When it comes to this strengthening exercise, be sure to start with very light weight—five to 10 pounds is all that’s needed for an effective workout here. Kettlebells work perfectly. 
 
EASY: First, engage the muscles in that region by laying on your back. Then, push your arm (holding the kettlebell) straight up in the air as if you were doing a push up. Repeat five to eight more times, then switch sides. Repeat three times.

CHALLENGING: Rotate your lower body while keeping your arm and the kettlebell still and in place in midair. Rotate back, and then repeat five to eight more times on each side. Repeat three times. Throughout the exercise, remember to breathe deeply and three-dimensionally with your diaphragm. 

 

Stretching/Mobilization:
 

Ten minutes a day is all it takes for this one. Simply grab a yoga mat and a lacrosse or tennis ball or a yoga block! Lay on your side with your arm straight above your head, and place the ball or block near the bottom of your armpit—if you lift your arm and feel around, you’ll find this is just the place where the lower corner of your scapula falls away to reveal the muscle underneath.

You be the discerning judge of the pressure applied. Our advice: start slowly. Then, simply, keep your body still while slowly rotating your palm up, and rotating it back down to flat on the mat. Repeat for two to three minutes on each side. 
 
Want to schedule an appointment with a subscapularis expert? Get in touch with us today. For more updates on the goings on around our office, catch us on Facebook and keep an eye out for upcoming free events!