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Dillon Zrike

Scapula position for basic and static exercises

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Dillon Zrike

Ladies and Gentlemen: This article describes the planche lean. A similar shape is used for planks, which is very different from a "normal plank" where the shoulders are retracted. Do not confuse the two. What is shown below is a specific developmental exercise that is fundamental to getting your body ready for planche work. This is why you need to make sure you concentrate on the body shape! The difference between plank and planche lean is that you are protracting as hard as you can with a hollow body and straight arms but not leaning at all into the plank. In the planche lean you are both protracting hard while hollow AND leaning forward with straight arms. That's why they have different names. You need to work on the plank first, so keep that in mind after you are finished reading.

A planche is all about the lean. I see many people attempt to "push up" into a planche. This is not correct. Even with tuck planches you should not be thinking about trying to lift your feet off the ground. Try this: Start in a tuck planche with your feet still on the ground. You should be as hollow as possible. The more hollow the better. If you don't know what hollow means, think about trying to touch your shoulders together in front of you. Slowly lean forward. At a certain point you will notice your feet begin to peel off the ground, at that point simply lift your toes. You are now in a correct tuck planche. Some of you who could do tuck planches, may notice you can not hold this position. That just means you were lifting into your planche and never strengthening the lean. This is also the reason many people have trouble moving on to advanced tuck. Here are some pictures of correct body position:

Hollow position

I'm a little crooked but you get the idea.

Correct Planche Lean

Scottmo,

To answer your questions, build up to 30s holds on the planche leans. This should be done on both floor and rings. It's very easy to lean farther and farther as you get stronger. Try not to do this. Pick an amount of lean you are capable of and follow SSC cycles to increase that lean. Again the key is to lean, not lift.

Should you elevate the feet same height as shoulders

I don't know the answer to that as I have never done them that way. However, Gregor recommends to perform them that way so it should be taken into consideration. It's up to you.

Dillon

Naterman Edit: Leans are much harder with feet elevated to the same height as your shoulders. You should probably take the time to develop a good lean with feet on the ground before attempting the same thing with your feet elevated.

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dacicsak

Here is a topic for everyone about the scapula position which is important for the shoulder health. Im doing calisthenics for a really long time, i got the front and back lever, but as i read the forum topics ive just realised i did everything wrong, well as a matter of fact only the scapula position. but that is VERY IMPORTANT for shoulder health not to mention the correct form.

So here i would like to clear everything about the scapula position for each basic and fundamental movements, also the static holds. I know there are different topics where this was discussed before, but for the new guys who come to the forum (like me) should take care of the positioning of the scapula and here we could summarize these.

If i know something wrong just clear me, and i will edit it as soon as possible to make this topic really useful. Sorry if there are mistakes, i will edit it. There are some exercises which i dont know still the correct position for the scapula. For me these are the basic exercises.

BASIC/DYNAMIC:

wide pullup --- *dont know*

chinup --- *dont know*

dip --- *dont know*

all kind of pushup --- scapula PROTRACTED

HeSPU and HSPU --- *dont know*

bodyweight row --- take the scapula first from protracted to retracted and then move into the movement, in each start of a repetition

STATIC:

Back lever --- still *dont know* really

Front lever --- scapula RETRACTED

Planche --- scapula PROTRACTED

Human flag --- *dont know*

Handstand --- push your shoulders to the ears

OTHER:

False grip pullup --- *dont know the scapula position maybe the same as pullups*

Please help to clear this big issue which can be a big problem for a lot of people who train with bodyweight.

Thanks

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Martin de Jesus Ponce Robaldino

i don't know if it may help, or if i'm wrong, but also planck needs scapula protaction, doesn't it?

i suppose it's included in the "all pushup variations"

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Kyle Courville

This is a big topic to tackle, but I will try my best to help. I am by no means an expert on any of this, and you may get a better response from someone like Slizzardman.

There are four basic scapula movements: retraction, protraction, elevation and depression. (I believe the scapula may have other movements, but I am not sure)

Retraction -- when the scapula come together

Protraction -- when the scapula move apart

Elevation -- when the scapula move upwards to the ears

Depression -- when the scapula move down

As a general rule retract your shoulders when pulling and protract when pushing. You do not have to stay protracted/retracted during the entire movement. For example in a pull up at the bottom range of motion your scapula will be elevated and protracted but as you pull yourself up your scapula should retract and depress.

A really great way to think about how to move your scapula is to push your scapula towads whichever way gravity is trying to take you, or think of putting your scapula between which way you came from and the direction your moving.

Examples:(Relative from your position in space)

During a dip gravity is pulling from below so depress your scapula, or move your scapula down so your body goes up.

During a row gravity is pulling from behind so retract, or move your scapula back so your body goes forward.

During a pushup gravity is pulling from the front so protract, or move your scapula forward so your body goes back.

During a handstand pushup gravity is pulling from above so elevate, or move your scapula up so your body goes down(toward feet).

Etc.

I really hope this helps make things clear.

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Augmenting Ape

This is a great idea for a thread. I've often been confused about scapular movement as well.

So rather than immediately creating a new thread to answer my question I will post my query here first:

In a HANDSTAND PUSHUP (full ROM), what should your scaps being doing? At the top you should be trying to touch your shoulders to your ears and totally extend your shoulders, that much i know, but as you sink into the actual movement, what should your Scaps be doing?

I know that in a pushup one actively retracts the scaps in the bottommost portion of the movement to protect the joints, is this done as well with the HSPU?

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phken4343

I'm pretty sure that all the push movements (push-ups, dips, HSPUs) have similar scapular motion.

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Tarun Suri

Easy rule of thumb, push/pull your shoulder in the opposite direction that it wants to go.

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Joshua Naterman
I'm pretty sure that all the push movements (push-ups, dips, HSPUs) have similar scapular motion.

They do not. The only thing you REALLY need to worry about is serratus anterior being active and strong, and lower traps and rhomboids not being too tight. It's a lot less common for the traps to be shut down without brachial plexus injuries but it IS possible, so that would be a concern too. At any rate, as long as you have active serratus your shoulder socket will essentially always be in the right position for what you are doing.

To break these down:

Dips: From the start at the top, scaps are depressed and somewhat protracted. As you descent, keep serratus active so that the scapula doesn't pull away from the ribcage. Your scap will naturally retract a little and elevate a bit as you go down. Then the reverse happens as you return to the starting position.

Push up: You are starting with scaps somewhat protracted but not fully protracted (Unless you want to, which is a good idea because you integrate full ROM serratus work this way), and straight arms. From here, as you approach the ground your serratus stays active so that your scaps stick to the ribcage as they retract smoothly in accordance with the motion. At the bottom they will be close to fully retracted. The reverse happens as you return to starting position (adding a full protraction at the top would be ideal, as that is true serratus work as long as you are keeping the shoulderblade stuck to the ribcage).

HSPU: You will start in a HS with scaps elevated and upwardly rotated (this happens naturally, just make sure serratus stays active as always so that the scap doesn't wing out) and straight arms. As you descend, the scaps will rotate downwardly. If you have a good body line there won't be much retraction or protraction, it will pretty much all be upwards rotation + elevation and downward rotation + depression.

EDIT:

FSP:

Planche: protraction + depression

FL: Retraction + depression

BL: some protraction + depression, but this is somewhat variable.

L sit: Depression with some protraction in regular L and some retraction or a neutral position in advanced L (ideally).

Manna: Retraction and depression

Straddle L: Protraction and depression

Handstand: Upwards rotation + elevation(this last part depends on what you want from your HS work, but for our purposes elevation is important).

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Erik Sjolin

I really wish I had known all this when I started. Could have saved me a lot of frustration and injuries. :x

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Cole Dano

If it makes you feel any better, i've asked senior yoga teachers these questions and got nowhere, in fact their answers 'broke' my shoulders! I had to go out do my own research and figure it out.

Not coincidentally, my answers fully agree with Slizzardman's. When you know the basic mechanics of the shoulders, they start to become clear. From that mechanical model you then start to integrate it into your body and it slowly becomes reality, so to speak.

I like Slizz's emphasis on the Serratus A. Its one of the more mechanically bizarre muscles, as it has two jobs to perform.

serratus-anterior-rhomboids-and-levator-scapulae3.jpg

The Serratus A. connects to the side ribs and runs under the scapula to the medial edge. You have to use your imagination, but picture the Rhomboids contracting and the Serratus A. contracting. Due to the insertion at the edge of the scapula, it levers it down onto the ribcage. Which for stable shoulders is what we want in most cases.

The exact degree of protraction or retraction will depend on how much each muscle is pulling, but in any case, they will both pull against each other to fix the scapula.

Its no wonder movement like push ups can be hard on the shoulders when you think of all the coordination and strength required.

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dacicsak

Really nice! Thanks for the answers! well i could edit the first post, but i think as you guys said everything is clear for everyone who wants to know about scapula position. I think this topic could be sticky!

Anyway: my shoulders and back(since 2 weeks) are thicker and stronger since i watch my scapulas during different exercises!!! great feeling that im on the good way now, thanks again

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dacicsak
HSPU: You will start in a HS with scaps elevated and upwardly rotated (this happens naturally, just make sure serratus stays active as always so that the scap doesn't wing out).............

How should i do this? active serratus, but scap doesnt wing out? could you explain me please?

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Joshua Naterman

You will be able to see it happen if you take a video. If it's not happening, don't worry about it! If the scap IS winging, you will need to work on push ups with a plus to re-activate and strengthen the serratus. I am actually finding that scapular push ups in an elbow plank position are better for me.

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Andreas Magneshaugen Ullerud

Is it normal to see the edge of the shoulder blade during push-ups? Is there something to look for, which is a clear sign of winging?

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Joshua Naterman
Is it normal to see the edge of the shoulder blade during push-ups? Is there something to look for, which is a clear sign of winging?

You will almost always see it unless you are heavily muscled, but there should not be a gap that you can stick your finger into between the shoulder blade and your ribs. Google "winging scapula" and check the images to see what it looks like.

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Bryce Warren

Would anyone be able to give me a few ideas on why I get pain in the scapula area after doing push-ups with proper form? It lasts for maybe a day or two after if I don't continue to do movements with protracted scapula. I never really notice it while doing the exercises but later in the day or the next day it blows up in my face.

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FREDERIC DUPONT

What sort of pain? DOMS, injury, nerve pinch, joint, tendon, inflamed tissue?

Where is it located?

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Bryce Warren

Feels like it's right near the spine on both sides. It's just flat out pain, not a pinch, not inflamed, not doms, it just hurts. It's also the area of my back that cracks quite often, when i flex my spine and sometimes just when I breathe deep. Never pain until I do push-ups with this form though.

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Cole Dano

Sounds like you could benefit from some manual therapy, if it persists see a good physical therapist.

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FREDERIC DUPONT

Foam roll, heat cream (or thai liniment), wall slides, rest.

You'll need someone to put the cream on.

If it persists, see a physio like Cole Dano said.

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Bryce Warren

Heh, cream sounds kinda nice actually. Chances are I'll need to do the physio though it's been like this for quite some time. Although I refuse to remove my push-up variations from my training for the sake of some on/off pain. They're just way too much fun.

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FREDERIC DUPONT
(...) I refuse to remove my push-up variations from my training for the sake of some on/off pain (...)

hehehe, I used to think exactly like that too... until I had to remove everything for some time for my body to heal... :?

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Bryce Warren

Lol, I know my body and injuries well enough to know what I should be careful of. When the time comes for me to take things out I do, I don't do the idiotic tough it out business when I know rest is needed. So for now, I'm well enough to continue, but I will be taking on the advice for some physio when possible.

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XxBAMFxX

What about the down portion of the pushup? Clearly the scapula should be protracted at the top of the movement when the arms are fully extended, but what about in the down portion? Shouldn't the scapula then retract?

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Matus Michalicka

Check previous page:

Push up: You are starting with scaps somewhat protracted but not fully protracted (Unless you want to, which is a good idea because you integrate full ROM serratus work this way), and straight arms. From here, as you approach the ground your serratus stays active so that your scaps stick to the ribcage as they retract smoothly in accordance with the motion. At the bottom they will be close to fully retracted. The reverse happens as you return to starting position (adding a full protraction at the top would be ideal, as that is true serratus work as long as you are keeping the shoulderblade stuck to the ribcage).

btw: I never thought that you should protract at the top of the dips...this applies to ring support as well, right?

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