These 4 exercises were found by Cools et al (2007) to display the BEST muscle activation ratios in which the UPPER TRAPEZIUS ACTIVATION IS MINIMIZED whereas the MIDDLE AND LOWER TRAPEZIUS ACTIVATION IS MAXIMIZED. The prone and sidelying positions decrease the upper trap's activation as a POSTURAL muscle. When you stand, the upper trap is more active as its working AGAINST GRAVITY. Laying on your stomach or side eliminates the effects of gravity and can decrease excessive activation!
Shoulder and neck pain and dysfunction are among some of the most common complaints of the overhead athlete and desk bound worker alike. Recent research has shone light on the importance of the SCAPULAR muscles on shoulder/neck pain and dysfunction. As we've alluded many times in past videos, the scapula serves as our shoulder's STABLE BASE. We need a strong and stabilized scapula in order for our shoulder joint to move properly. PROXIMAL STABILITY PROMOTES DISTAL MOBILITY FOLKS!
When it comes to the scapular muscles, the 3-part TRAPEZIUS muscle plays a extremely large role in providing this stable base. In those with shoulder/neck pain and dysfunction, it has been found that many times the UPPER TRAPS are HYPERACTIVE whereas the MIDDLE and LOWER TRAPEZIUS muscles show REDCUED activation. Along with insufficient serratus anterior activation, this quartet of dysfunctions can lead to decreased amounts of scapular upward rotation, external rotation, and posterior tilt - all specific scapular motions that are imperative to maintaining the SUBACROMIAL SPACE and preventing things like shoulder impingement and rotator cuff tendinopathy. Start with no weights as shown, then progress to dumbbells.
Citation: Cools et al 2007. Rehabilitation of Scapular Muscle Balance: Which Exercises To Prescribe?