We revisit the idea of prehab exercises to improve muscle balance ratios. A quick lesson on what determines muscle activation...GRAVITY! The upper traps are a major postural muscle, if we didn't have any muscle tone here, think where would our shoulders and scapulae hangout? Touching base on other videos, we speculate the upper traps tend to be hyperactive and too strong compared to its counterparts the mid and lower trap.
Accordingly to Cools et al. 2007, it's all about optimal muscle balance ratios. In order to decrease the upper trap to lower trap recruitment ratio, we have to SET UP THE ENVIRONMENT for success. We cannot change the direction of gravity here on earth, but we can change the position of our bodies and how we perform exercises to alter muscle recruitment. Forward deltoid raises while standing or sitting will not cut it to improve the upper trap/low trap ratio! But we still have to train on shoulder day right?
Here are two exercises demonstrated in sidelying that will optimally recruit low trap, mid trap, AND decrease upper trap activity! GRAVITY GOES DOWN, being in a sidelying position eliminates the upper trap resisting gravity to elevate the scapulae. It has also be shown in previous research that the sidelying position enhances muscle activity of the rotator cuff muscles and the posterior deltoid.
Performing prehab exercises like this to restore the balance of muscle activation is key! Again, it has been shown through previous investigation that overhead athletes with impingement demonstrate scapulae muscle imbalances. Whether it is the cause or effect, we want to create balance! Be sure to incorporate these exercises to improve and maintain an optimal strength balance in your scapulae muscles! It doesn't require heavy weight either trust me, perform these exercises with good form (don't shrug the shoulder) and you'll feel it!