What does a ‘winged scapula’ mean?
This condition refers to a shoulder blade which, rather than sitting flush against the ribcage is actually rotated forward, away from the midline of the spine with the lower angle (the pointed part) protruding. The shoulder blade (also known as the scapula) effectively ‘wings’ off the torso.
What are the causes of a ‘winged scapula’?
While nerve damage and trauma can cause the condition, muscular imbalance is the usual suspect in many cases. Winging scapula is mostly seen or is more obvious on the dominant arm side and this is consistent with the idea of muscular imbalance.
When the muscles at the front of the body, chiefly the pectoral group, anterior deltoid and the lats which lie on the back but contribute to inward rotation of the arm and part of the rotator cuff group tighten through a combination of repetitive use and shortening through sustained poor posture such as prolonged sitting then the muscles which counter the action of these dominating muscles become weak and inhibited. (They can longer do their job properly). They are effectively over powered and the shoulder becomes unstable.
What problems are associated with a winged scapula?
A winged scapula is a weak and unstable structure. The shoulder has excellent range of motion and this is due to it’s relatively insecure bony attachment. Unlike the hip joint (another ball and socket joint) which is secured very tightly into it’s socket the shoulder joint owes much of it’s stability to soft tissue. (Muscles, ligaments, tendons and other connective tissue). Therefore when muscles supporting the joint are out of balance it can no longer articulate properly and structures within and around the joint become vulnerable to damage and serious injury.
How can Remedial Massage help a ‘winged scapula’?
Remedial massage can assess the presence and severity of a ‘winged scapula(s)’ and work on releasing the tight tissues which are contributing to the forward pull on the shoulder girdle. With these structures released and relaxed the Remedial Massage Therapist can then mobilise the joints to encourage better alignment. Remedial massage to the weak and inhibited muscles such as the mid trapezius, rhomboids and serratus anterior will help to re-activate them enabling them to play their part in the stability and movement of the shoulder.
Finally, corrective exercises will be necessary to re-establish the correct motor patterns and build strength for sustained alignment.
By following the principles of:
Remedial massage is an excellent therapy to help bring the body back into balance.