Double-Bladed Exercises for the ShoulderMore and more people are getting involved in athletics. This means more injuries. The rotator cuff of the shoulder is a common area of sports injury. Activities that require raising the arms and throwing overhead are often the source of shoulder problems. Sports such as swimming and golf also place the athlete at risk of injury.
The subscapularis muscle is an important shoulder muscle. It is a large muscle along the inside (front) of the scapula (shoulder blade). It's very active during overhead motions. Scientists used to think it worked as a single muscle. Now they know it has two parts: the upper and lower subscapularis.
The two portions of the subscapularis may have separate functions. Recent research shows that the upper part of the muscle is more important during throwing. The upper portion is also more active when the arm is held away from the body. The lower portion works the most when the arm is held at the side and the forearm is brought across the body.
Finding out the specific actions of each muscle is important. This information can be used to plan rehab programs for shoulder injuries. Any exercise program for the subscapularis should probably train this muscle as two separate units. This study showed that moving the arm diagonally "down and across" the body works both parts of the muscle. A special form of push up also worked both muscles.
Many studies now show that exercise must meet the needs of each individual. This applies to the injured athlete and the athlete in training. Matching each person's needs with his or her goals is the key to success. Knowing how each muscle works is the first step in planning these programs.
Michael J. Decker, MS, et al. Subscapularis Muscle Activity During Selected Rehabilitation Exercises. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. January/February 2003. Vol. 31. No. 1. Pp. 126-134.
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