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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:22 pm 
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So i've been doing my shoulder pre-hab exercises for a few months now, and am improving, but something i still struggle with is preventing the upper traps from taking over, particularly during facepulls and scap push-ups, and I'm not really sure how i can inhibit them. I've tried this stretch http://www.exrx.net/Stretches/TrapeziusUpper/Trap.html but i can only seem to feel it in the splenius, and never in the upper traps. Any tips? Should i just be doing some kind of thoracic mobility drills?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:48 am 
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What kind of other shoulder exercises have you done? Many shoulder-related moves also activate the upper traps, no matter what.

I think there is no dominance-relation to shoulder-traps axel. I think It's more like upper-lower trap dominance in some back exercises that is more possible. The trap is practically three-parted. The upper trap, yoke or whatever you like to call it, originates from your skull, linea nuchae and the first cranial spine ligaments to be exact. It inserts near the acromion. So it's main function is the elevation and stabilization of the scapula.

Seperating shoulder and trap work is simple in theory. None of the rotatory cuff or deltoid -muscles actually adduct the scapula, nor lower or elevate it too much. They rotate and move the humerus. But many exercises still have an effect to the traps as well, as in most cases the ROM has also scapular adduction or stabilization.

How sure are you about the stretch feeling only in your splenius? The muscles go almost back to back in your neck.

So I have no straight answer, as I'm not an expert on shoulderbusiness, but this is the anatomical and functional view.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:43 am 
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yes you should be doing some thoracic mobility stuff, everyone should. More on that later...

Upper trap dominance is a nightmare, and affects the majority of lifters (at least recreational ones with posture issues...). If you find your upper traps are taking over on face pulls, you need to lower the weight right down and concentrate on really squeezing your shoulder blades back and down at the top of each rep. Make sure there's no shrugging. As for the scap push ups, just be very careful not to shrug your shoulders. Doing the reps a bit slower will probably help that.

How is your form on your rows? Are you keeping an arch in your back when doing your reps? I'm thinking probably not. Fix that. Also, look up an exercise known as prone scap raises, and a mobility drill called YTWLIs. Both of these should be mainstays in your program from now on.

As for not feeling the trap stretch in the right place, I know what you mean as I have had this issue myself. Make sure to keep really good upper back posture when doing the stretch, and play around with different head positions til you feel the stretch in the right place. Generally speaking, the more it hurts, the better it is.

The thoracic mobility stuff you should be doing are thoracic extensions and scap wall slides. Google them, learn them, perform them daily.

Also, you probably have forward head posture that needs fixed. Look up stretches for your suboccipitals, and an exercise called chin tucks. Start doing these every day.

Happy lifting!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:27 am 
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robertscott, pretty much everything you said was right on the nose, so i'm only going to quote the parts i would like you to elucidate further, if you don't mind.

robertscott wrote:
Also, look up an exercise known as prone scap raises, and a mobility drill called YTWLIs. Both of these should be mainstays in your program from now on.


I've actually looked into these before. The only problem is i don't have a bench. Shameful, i know. Any advice on how i can do them until i get one?

robertscott wrote:
The thoracic mobility stuff you should be doing are thoracic extensions and scap wall slides. Google them, learn them, perform them daily.


Like this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysAnAYSH_jM
and this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICtEOwA3 ... r_embedded
Seems doable.

With respect to the scap wall slides, can i do behind-the-neck band pull-aparts instead? I've had more luck keeping my upper back tight and preventing impingement with those because the resistance band gives you feedback.

Thanks in advance.

And thank you both for your replies, by the way!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:48 am 
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commodiusvicus wrote:
robertscott, pretty much everything you said was right on the nose, so i'm only going to quote the parts i would like you to elucidate further, if you don't mind.

robertscott wrote:
Also, look up an exercise known as prone scap raises, and a mobility drill called YTWLIs. Both of these should be mainstays in your program from now on.


I've actually looked into these before. The only problem is i don't have a bench. Shameful, i know. Any advice on how i can do them until i get one?


hmmm, you could try getting down on all fours and doing one side at a time? That might work. Be careful to keep an arch in your back though. I dunno mate, I think you'll need to invest in a bench.

If you have a resistance band, look up the "No Money" drill. It'll do pretty much the same job as the YTWLIs, but ideally you'd do both.

commodiusvicus wrote:
robertscott wrote:
The thoracic mobility stuff you should be doing are thoracic extensions and scap wall slides. Google them, learn them, perform them daily.


Like this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysAnAYSH_jM
and this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICtEOwA3 ... r_embedded
Seems doable.

With respect to the scap wall slides, can i do behind-the-neck band pull-aparts instead? I've had more luck keeping my upper back tight and preventing impingement with those because the resistance band gives you feedback.

Thanks in advance.

And thank you both for your replies, by the way!


both of those exercises are brilliant, and should definitely be included. I would, however, still do the wall slides. I know how much they suck, believe me, but you will get better at them over time. If you are struggling to keep your back tight doing them, that's precisely the reason you should keep doing them!

Behind the neck pull aparts are ace, and you should do those too, but again I believe they should be done in addition to all the other stuff, not as an alternative.

This is all good stuff by the way, and you've done a good job of researching. Good for you. If you're lucky KPj'll chime in on this, he's the resident shoulder expert.

In the meantime, keep doing all those exercises, a little every day.

And stretch those traps and suboccipitals! Muy importante


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:51 am 
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oh, and neither of those links you provided showed an actual scap wall slide, so just in case you don't know what it is, here's a link:

http://www.ericcressey.com/exercise-of- ... all-slides

think of it like the air guitar equivalent of overhead pressing


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:27 pm 
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commodiusvicus wrote:
I've actually looked into these before. The only problem is i don't have a bench. Shameful, i know. Any advice on how i can do them until i get one?

Get a piece of plywood or a 1x10 and a couple of cement blocks.
Maybe you could put a piece of 1/2" foam and some cheap vinyl upholstery around the board, staple it in place. Later you could build some legs for it. Then you'd actually have a bench!

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:56 am 
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Just a quick bump to say i did my DB overhead presses today and it felt great. I still need to work on keeping my abs and glutes tight to prevent excessive hyper-extension but my shoulder didn't give me any trouble at all. I'm getting better at the wall slides, and i took your advice and started doing corrective exercises for forward head posture, and i think that's helping too. Thanks, robertscott. It's a relief to feel that progress is possible with these things.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:50 am 
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you're welcome mate, just be patient. You're correcting a couple of decades of bad posture, it won't happen overnight


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:55 am 
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Ok, i have one more question, and i'm just gonna post it in here because it's shoulder-related. And because it's MY thread and i'll do as i please with it :)

I came across something i hadn't noticed before here: http://www.exrx.net/Kinesiology/Inflexi ... or13299557

I'm fairly confident that i have protracted shoulders as well as slight impingement. I already do band external rotations and subscap and chest stretches to help remedy these things, but should i add internal rotations and infraspinatus stretching also? I wouldn't want to do it if it's actually counter-productive given my slightly winged scapula, tight internal rotators, and so forth.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:44 am 
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don't do internal rotations, but stretching your internal rotators couldn't hurt.

Stretch your pecs, and google the "sleeper stretch"


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