Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Should Come First, Scapular Stabilization Exercises or Rotator Cuff Exercises?

Many times, people come to see me with a rotator cuff injury. This is no surprise as I did my masters project on the best rotator cuff exercises.

Before I get the new client to do anything, I ask them what kind of exercises they have been given for their rotator cuff injury.

Most time they show me a few and describe a few to me. After seeing what they have been doing to exercise their rotator cuff injury, often times what is missing are scapular stabilization exercises.

It always surprises me that so many people overlook these simple and essential exercises.
Let me explain why the scapular stabilization exercises need to be focused on first, before strengthening the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff and scapular stabilization muscles work together. The rotator cuff muscles hold the shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) in places during shoulder movements. The scapular stabilizers keep the rotator cuff muscles in the best position (optimal length/tension relationship) so the rotator cuff muscles can do their job.

What I see time and time again is people have strengthened their rotator cuff muscle but have not activated their scapular stabilizing muscles, built the endurance of their scapluar stabilizing muscles or built the strength of their scapular stabilizing muscles. The rotator cuff maybe stronger but since the scapular stabilizing muscles have be ignored, more stress is put on the rotator cuff and a rotator cuff injury occurs again.

The next time you have a client with a rotator cuff injury, make sure you:

- Activate their scapular stabilizing muscles

- Built the endurance of their scapular stabilizing muscles- Built the strength of their scapular stabilizing muscles

- Then strengthen the rotator cuff

If you include these steps above, you will have greater success helping your clients over come their shoulder injuries and keep their rotator cuff from being re-injured.

Rick Kaselj, MS

P.S. – In the Scapular Stabilization Exercises webinar, I will be going through the exercises that have worked best when it comes to helping people recover from a shoulder injury. To register for the webinar, visit:


Rick Kaselj –
Registered Kinesiologist Specializing in Injury Rehabilitation
Surrey, BC, Canada
Get your “5 Myths about Core Training” Special Report –

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