T Nation

Rowing Movements and Scapula?

Alright so I’ve got a bit of a shoulder problem and I was looking across EC’s shoulder savers.

If you guys have a moment of your time to checkout his article and scroll down to see SEATED CABLE ROWS.
It seems as if the way he shows the wrong way to do it…in one of them he shows humeral extension.
Now when you take a look at that…and see anyone doing BB rows…I always thought we were supposed to keep scapula depressed…and retracted when you touch chest, abs whatever spot you hit. After you execute that part of the lift…when you bring the bar back down…aren’t we supposed to “relax” our back and kinda stretch out that scapula (full range) and then do the same thing over again.
I’m just confused cause I don’t want to get my shoulder worse…and to me it seems like when I do rows…I pick up the bar…it stretches my scapula, bring it up retract back, bring it down “detract” (sorry i know theres a word for this but I cant remember) THUS letting the scapula stretch itself out…but is this bad for our shoulder because it kinda rolls forward?

Here’s the article…it’s just a bit down the page to see the way to do seated cable rows

All advice appreaciated!

I practice rows as you are describing. Retract scapula on concentric “relax” on eccentric. I have had a chronically bad right shoulder for years due to ignorance when I started. I feel one of the things that has helped reduce my symptoms has been increasing my rowing strength, and making sure I am actively retracting/relaxing my scapula when I row.

I am sure that if you kept them retracted you would still get isometric stimulation but, I can’t imagine that being better than a “full ROM”.

This video is how I try to perform my rows. It’s clear his shoulders are traveling up and down. I don’t see how this is a bad thing, and as I said, it’s helped my shoulder and definitely hasn’t made it worse.

Yeah mmm I think actually now that I’ve been thinknig of it more I am ALSO ELEVATING my Scapula while letting shoulders relax and I think this is what was actually making it worse.

I took a look at the vid. He keeps his shoulders depressed downwards through the whole movement and his scapula doesn’t elevate. I think part of my problem was elevating it (be it to lift more weight or whatever)…doing that on top of rolling shoulders forward is givnig me the shoulder issue…on top of the pressing blah blah blah. Left shoulder is a no good
It’s my supaspinatus as well…in short I’m doing things wrong…the physio said my shoulders are very strong and such so for a while it was probably masking and other muscle groups were compensating but now it’s gotten too far and that’s why it hurts.

The physio told me as well it’s good to keep that full ROM and “relax” at the bottom and squeeze at top (retract scapula) but for now to get my shoulder back in proper order I think I am just going to keep it retracted the whole time…or if I decide to let it relax…I have to make it of utmost importance that I keep my scapula elevated downwards.

One more thing is that my shoulder is rolling forward and kinda “out of place”.
So when I’m doing external rotations it was still just rolling forward and not helping much.
Physio said I REALLY need to concentrate on pulling the scapula back, keeping the shoulder back then doing my band external rotations.

Thanks for the vid and post cueball!

Just keep your chin tucked, your chest out and your back straight, and initiate the movement with your back.

in the “Humeral Extension”, he is leaning back to compensate for his weak retractor muscles. When you lean back, your upper traps and lats take over.

Another subtle flaw people do is that towards the end of the lift they pull their elbows upward…everything needs to go straight back…

[quote]rasturai wrote:
Yeah mmm I think actually now that I’ve been thinknig of it more I am ALSO ELEVATING my Scapula while letting shoulders relax and I think this is what was actually making it worse.

I took a look at the vid. He keeps his shoulders depressed downwards through the whole movement and his scapula doesn’t elevate. I think part of my problem was elevating it (be it to lift more weight or whatever)…doing that on top of rolling shoulders forward is givnig me the shoulder issue…on top of the pressing blah blah blah. Left shoulder is a no good
It’s my supaspinatus as well…in short I’m doing things wrong…the physio said my shoulders are very strong and such so for a while it was probably masking and other muscle groups were compensating but now it’s gotten too far and that’s why it hurts.

The physio told me as well it’s good to keep that full ROM and “relax” at the bottom and squeeze at top (retract scapula) but for now to get my shoulder back in proper order I think I am just going to keep it retracted the whole time…or if I decide to let it relax…I have to make it of utmost importance that I keep my scapula elevated downwards.

One more thing is that my shoulder is rolling forward and kinda “out of place”.
So when I’m doing external rotations it was still just rolling forward and not helping much.
Physio said I REALLY need to concentrate on pulling the scapula back, keeping the shoulder back then doing my band external rotations.

Thanks for the vid and post cueball!

[/quote]

I see. I would imagine, as you are suggesting, that letting them elevate probably isn’t the best. In the video, you are right, he does keep them pulled down, but still move forward/backward relative to his body which I assume is his scapula pulling together.

When I first started concentrating on my scapula I had to reduce the weight significantly to “feel” what my scapula were doing and get used to the pattern. As I go heavier, I can’t quite “feel” it any more. Now I just groove that feeling during the lighter ramp sets so it’s a bit more automatic when I get to the heavier sets.

It shouldn’t take too long to re-work your movement and get it grooved before you get back to what you were working with before.

Edit: One thing that helped me was a little thoratic extension/flexion. The extension seems to automatically pull the scapula together and down, and vice versa with the flexion.

Yeah I’m definaetly adding in the thorasic work, and using my PVC pipe to go back n forth on my back muscles while I hug my arms together.

I’m actually including full body foam rolling for 10-15min. before lifting sessions now. I know I’m so tight everywhere and I can’t ignore it cause it’ll catch up to me in the long time especailly using the heavier weights.

Infraspinatus- blue
Subscapularis-purple
Teres minor- yellow
Supraspinatus-green

[quote]rasturai wrote:
Yeah I’m definaetly adding in the thorasic work, and using my PVC pipe to go back n forth on my back muscles while I hug my arms together.

I’m actually including full body foam rolling for 10-15min. before lifting sessions now. I know I’m so tight everywhere and I can’t ignore it cause it’ll catch up to me in the long time especailly using the heavier weights.[/quote]

Try 2 full body sessions for a week. Also, try to get something like a baseball to drill into the shoulder girdle targeting all the muscles in the pic above


pic 1 of 2

Thanks for the pic bulletprooftiger! Yeah it’s definaetly that area righttt there where my supraspinatus is…that’s whats buggin me.
I did my full body foam roll today…I’m actually going to be doing a full body stretching and foam roll EVERYDAY - took me about 50min tonight to finish it all…but I have to say my body felt great after it.

I was un-sure whether to take the ball around the area of pain where my shoulder hurts (i have done it before) but is it okay to still do it if I have pain in that area?

I’m guessing it’s a form of tendonitis…which I guess it is a bit impinged my shoulder…but that is why I’m really focusing on keeping shoulders back, stretching tight pecs, and doing external rotation work with retracted scapula.

ANY and all other suggestions for help on how to heal this type of injury is very much appreciated :slight_smile:

I’m in physio for an old shoulder injury and had overlooked the signifigance of the serratus and lower traps. If you keep that tight (I need to keep doing my activation and exercises for it, but if I take a big gulp, brace abs, and use that to help focus on keeping scapula flat to ribs, that really changes the feeling of it just “falling forward” and I have to drop the weight but its a completely different feeling. I always felt like there was a “gap” or something on the right side where there was alot more thickness in my back just below the scapula on the left, but dispite having to drop the weights (to nothing basically)…I am confident that if I can get things to heal and get my posture/structure where I want it and keep it there while building up a new base, I will be able to outdo my old strength records x9000.

I know its old news but a good reminder, and might explain what I’m trying to say better than I can

Oh wow thank you very much for this. I have the Inside Out DVD and was gonna look over it this weekend…I’ve actually never seen this article!

Yeah I went today back to the physio…so its definaetly my shoulde rlike I said before (supraspinatus) but as well my scapula on the same side is pretty messed up. It’s also tight (and the neck is tight as well). He talked about the ribs as well…we got some popping goin on lol.

My posterior capsule is really tight too, it’s actually very hard to keep my left shoulder back in proper position. So on top of the external rotations I told the physio I’ve already been doing thorasic extensions, scap push ups etc.

My scap just isnt firing right or something…but all these things are causing the shoulder to impinge.

Thanks for the artciel once again!

Rasturai, glad I could help
-your description really reminds me of whats going on for my shoulder, I hope we both have a quick recovery

I don’t know if it’s relevant to you, but i had similar issues, shoulder injury etc, and I foam rolled rotator cuff muscles with a tennis ball in a sock and did midback activation to make it better.

BUT 2 things which I noticed made my impingement worse (clicking and also limited painfree ROM) were the Ys in YTWLs, and scap pushups. That’s right, if i did scap pushups 3x per week, while doing scap retraction work more often (up to 6x at low intensity) these two actually made things worse. However, the tennis ball work, TS, external and internal rotation work, and especially BIKE face pulls, made things much better.

Yeah for sure brian…I’m sure though once things are balanced out the strength will come back again fast and surpass previos records. God knows I’ve been training with these imbalances for so long, when things are workin proper I’m sure my gains will be much more escalating than before!

dannyrat - I DEFINATELY AGREE!

Although I do not have clicking…I did scap pushups and the Y drill from ytwl…and the next day damn it hurt much more. I havent done any of the Y’s or scap pushups and my shoulder feels better already!!

One thing I’m concerned about with the foam rolling rotator cuff muscle is that…if I foam roll my supraspinatus (where its injured) won’t that make healing longer because I’m adding pressure to it?

Anyways besides that I told my physio bout the Y and she said she wouldnt do that as of now until it gets better…the other physio also realized my upper trap on the left side is VERY tight…ive been foam rolling to help that.

ONE MORE THING! - The physio was doing this thing where my shoulder is on the end of the bench…one hand on chest…one hand pushing down shoulder (shoulder obviosuly moves back as if someone were retracting)

Well on the right side the shoulder glides easily in the back positon…on the left side - barely! it’s so tight its ridiculous…so I’ve been getting my dad to do that stretch for me + streching my pecs

And I’ve been doing the face pulls I gotta say my shoulder is definaetly feeling better :slight_smile:

hey also dannyrat what does the TS stand for?

I forgot to mention I am doing the Bike Face pulls as well (neutral grip) definately making it feel much better!

My mistake: TS is ‘Ts’ as in YTWL, or LYTP from Nick Tumminello ( http://nicktumminello.com/2009/07/a-new-and-improved-ytwl/ )

Since it seems like you and I have similar issues/symptoms, I will say that I feared the same regarding the tennis ball foam-rolling, and fuck yes it does hurt fr a while (like any other foam rolling). But now, it’s good. It makes stuff better. I worked up to foam rolling lower traps/pos delt/rotator cuff region 3 times a day against the wall, and now, my shoulder fne unless I stop doing that and the face pulls.

1 more thing: stretching my pecs against a wall hurt. It fucked things up. What i’ve found is better (perhaps because you contract the midback musculature, or because of reciprocal inhibition, or just because it’s a more realistic, and less harsh ROM for the stretch, I don’t know or care why) is to extend my arms behind me, and try to pull them together just by ‘spreading’ my arms towards my spine (NOT by grabbing wrists and pulling them in).

Awesome I’m going to be trying the T’s tonight!
Yeah I was doign some of that foam roll for posterior and was just wondering if it would cause more damage but I will proceed…the foam roll for the back definately hurts liek a bitch using PVC lol esp. cause I’m pretty damn right in that area, been doing thorasic extensions now as well.