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Let's Talk About Shoulder Blades

Have you ever been told you have winging or winged shoulder blades?

Winged shoulder blades (scapulae) generally describe the position or appearance of your shoulder blades.  The position is one where the shoulder blades are sticking off the back or rib cage.  

This can happen for different reasons:

  • developmental

  • posture

  • habits

  • injury

The shoulder blade and the ribcage area are similar to stacked plates.

The front of the shoulder blade the part that sits against the rib cage, is concave and the rib cage is optimally convex shaped allowing the shoulder blade to stack or hug the rib cage.  

Certain postures can start to change the shape of the ribcage pulling it away from the should blade.  Other postures or habits can change the muscles around the shoulder blade causing it to be pulled away from the ribcage and have a winged appearance.

These changes over time can:

  • lead to poor movement of the shoulder joint

  • wearing down of the shoulder joint cartilage and other soft tissue

  • impingement of the joint

  • tightness

  • pain

Below are some common shoulder-pulling-type exercises.  In our last installment, we covered some common pushing exercises.  

 KEY TAKEAWAY: When performing pulling-type exercises it is very important to keep the rib cage, spine, and pelvis in optimal alignment.  This alignment will help support the 'stacked plate' relationship of the shoulder blade and ribcage.

When we use cues of pulling the shoulders down and back or lifting the chest it can alter this very important mechanism and create muscle imbalances around the shoulder joint.


If you have winged shoulder blades or forward shoulders, it may be related to nonoptimal habits, cues, exercise, posture, and more.  Over time, this may lead to further issues and complications affecting your things from basic activities of daily living to the activities you love to do.

Making some simple changes to moving in a natural way with optimal alignment, breathing, and using the right muscular effort for tasks and exercise can make big and lasting changes.

If we can help you discover the best strategies for you and your body, reach out.  We can help.

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