Scapula Winging - Totally Confused

Hi, I’m 27 year old male with a desk job and … winged scapula (both sides but the right shoulder seems to rotate a bit inward and down, I mean it has a tendency to do so specially during exercises).

After noticing the problem - I don’t remember at what point of my life or because of what I got the winging - I’ve started to search the way to correct it. But, after couple of weeks of reading the internet articles about it I’m basically scared to do any exercise cause everywhere I look it’s a different story.

For example:

On forum I read the advices to do chinups (under-grip) to help the winging - but T-Nation says the chinups encourage the dawn-inward rotation (if I say it correctly) and I should avoid it.

T-Nation says to do pushups, specially with my feet elevated - but when I compare the muscle work during:
regular pushups →
pushups with hands elevated →
and pushups with feet elevated →

It seems I would be better doing the pushups with my hands elevated instead my feet.

Same thing goes for the overhead pressing (like military press) - works the serratus but also a great deal the upper traps - i.e. avoid.

And another one - straight arms rollouts (on the ball of the barbell) - works the serratus but also a great deal the lats - i.e. avoid.



I know the time will tell but I don’t want to screw myself from the get go.

Thanks for any help

Hey mate it would help if you had photos to show…

But from what I understand. If the medial side of the scapula is winging then it is your serratus anterior that is weak. Possible ways to fix it is push-up plus, wall push-ups, protraction of your scap. Also exercises for the rotator cuff. Although it is not a direct exercise it works well if you set your scap properly and the serratus will work to hold teh scap against the chest wall.

If it is your inferior boarder rising it could be weak lower trapz or tight pec minor.

As i said pics will help. I would go see a physio though imo as they will be able to teach you proper positioning of the shoulder blade and give you the correct exercise


I have a few questions:
Are you having shoulder pain?
Of all these exercises that you use to help your issue, are they difficult or do you fatigue easily with them?
What are you afraid of, your scapula detaching from you ribcage?


You seem to be majorly over analyzing things. Yes, OH Press will work the upper traps to an extent, but it also allows for proper scapulohumeral rhythm and you shouldn’t be shrugging the weight up. Think about the activation of the upper traps during deadlifts, are you going to worry about doing those as well? Also, in regards to feet elevated pushups, research has shown that feet elevated pushups increase serratus activity.

My advice:

  1. Actively try to remember to maintain proper posture during your work day. The more time you are sitting properly with shoulders pulled back, etc, the better your body will be able to keep that position and “fix” the winging scapula.

  2. Work on some serratus and lower trap specific corrective exercise (Wall slides, Prone Ys, push up plus, serratus punch, etc) along with thoracic mobility. Probably wouldn’t hurt to look at cervical spine positioning too and hip mobility, but I feel throwing too much at you at first would overwhelm you.

  3. When looking at exercise selection, you have to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. Look at the big picture and stop over-analyzing. Will OH press activate upper traps, yes. But if done properly it will activate serratus and other scapular musculature, while the upper traps shouldn’t be heavily involved in the movement. Same goes for the ab wheel rollouts - yes it increase lat dorsi recruitment, but if done properly you should be keeping your scap tight to your body and packing the shoulder; not to mention all of the lumbar stabilizer and other benefits the exercise gives.

thanks a lot for the quick replies and sorry for my absence

rocca — unfortunately I’ve no one to take my pictures so it wont be possible ad them, the same thing is with examination of my posture and any of the muscle weaknesses that you’ve described
I would really like to know how to do a self examination for all of these muscle weaknesses - if you know any I would really love to know how to do them - maybe you could give me some names of tests tests or links, that would be great

for now I just know that my scapulae are winging during pushups - and on the right side it feels like therre’s nothig holding it to the ribcage

as for the physio - I would give a world for a good physio opinion but I live in a shithole and a specialist like that is very hard to come by

olifter1 — luckily I don’t feel much of a pain, just a stiffness in the neck (specially in the right side) and really big discomfort, specially in the right side - my scaps are not only pressing against any chair I sit but they really feel loose like hell
It’s kind a weird thing specially with the pushups because when I lower myself to the floor I feel my right blade rubbing against the ribcage, and in the top position it feels as its going to detach itself from the ribcage

and the most irritating thing about it is that the pushups are suppose to help with the winging but when doing them I’m not able to keep my blades on the ribcage - and I’ve tried almost every had placement I could imagime (from close grip with my palms directly under my nipples and elbows pressed to the torso - to the wide hand placement with my palms wider than the shoulders and above the face level— I’ve also tried placing my palsm inward with my fingers pointing each other — and also with my palms outward like you would keep your hands on the swiss ball) every time it’s the same

also I feel that when I’m doing normal pushups with my fingers straight forward I just cant keep my right side/blade/scapula from shrugging towards my head and (and boy how tense my neck and upper traps feel after these kind of pushups) - and when I place my palms outwards or even backwards (like with a reverse grip during reverse grip bench press) I feel that my scapula is travelling more along the side of my ribcage and not shrugging towards my head
after reading all these articles I don’t know what should and what should not happen during pushups, for example, should I do pushup just to the point when I feel I’m not winging yet or should press myself as far as I can from the floor and not care about houw bad I wing during the press ?

LevelHeaded — I know I’m over analysing it but Its like that now, a few months back I was just doing exactly what I’ve found about winging (i.e. exercises and the whole programs) just copying without thinking
but when after coulpe of months everything stayed the same or even got worse I’ve started to analyse

I’m trying to see the big picture here and I really want to do all the main, big exercises like the deadlift, military press, bent over row etc. but every time I try to do them I feel that things are getting worse

but I might have noticed some ting interesting - namely the reverse grip - and not only with the bench but also with the row, deadlift and the military press
the reverse grip seems to help me retract my blades better i.e.

when I deadlift with underhand grip I seam to shrug a lot les and push my chest forward a lot easier - wher I row with underhand grip I row to the bottot of the stomach and not end up with a semi shrug position on to.
when I press overhead with the undergrip It looks like a scaption with a barbell - with the reverse grip bench press the blade seam to travel along the sides just like with the palms outwards/backwards pushups

What do you think about that, about doing everyting with a reverse grip ? I have to try a pullover with a reverse grip

and about the reverse grip benchpress - is it working JUST the upper pecs or lower part /sternal/ aswell ?

thanks again for all you help and advice

First - You really need someone to watch your movement who really understand what should happen and where the weakness is - physio is profession for this

Second If you cannot do the pushups with reasonable form then regress to a less advanced level - knees on ground - standing with hands on table - look up pushup progressions

Rehab / Prehab tends to benefit from more frequent low intensity so do a light set a couple of times a day till strength builds

And you really need someone who knows what they are doing to monitor you because as soon as you fix one issue you will show up the next