What is it?
The scapula is the medical term for the shoulder blade. The shoulder motions are a combination of scapula movements in conjunction with the ball and socket (glenohumeral movements). A “sick” scapula is when the shoulder blade is not positioning properly and over time, can lead to significant shoulder injuries of a torn rotator cuff or labrum tears. Note the picture below.
What causes it?
The cause is usually a muscular imbalance. This typically occurs slowly as poor posture allows the chest muscles to pull the shoulder blade forward and downward. That change of position will leave the shoulder blade muscles with a poor mechanical advantage and lead to reduced/altered movements. The poor shoulder blade movement will cause excessive compression between the shoulder blade and rotator cuff tendons and potentially result in tendon tear.
How do I know if I have it?
You will likely have some shoulder pain and reduced range of motion. The best way to check is to have someone observe you from behind for shoulder blade symmetry. The shoulder blades should be a mirror image of one another. While performing the below shoulder blade movements, the shoulder blades should be a mirror image of one another. If one appears to rotate or tilt, you may be developing a “sick” scapula.
How can I treat it?
Through a combination of stretching and strengthening specific muscles, you will be able to “activate” the proper muscle contractions to control the shoulder blade. However, every “sick” scapula is different, so you can help yourself by identifying the problem, then consult with myself, or another sports injury professional to properly address the dysfunctional movement patterns.
Dr. Custer is the owner/operator of Better Care Chiropractic and Physical Therapy clinics. In addition to chiropractic and physical therapy, Better Care clinics also offer Massage Therapy and Personal Training . Our goal is to promote a rapid and full recovery for each patient. Dr. Custer combines his 15 plus years of experience in injury rehabilitation (as an athletic trainer) with his chiropractic education to promote a fast and efficient recovery process.