Saturday, June 10, 2023

Shoulder Stabilization: Key to Learning PoleWalking

August 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Coaching, DVD Updates, Fitness & Health


Scapular Retraction and Scapular Depression are 2 basic movements that provide the foundation for shoulder health.    By doing this regularly, you will use and strengthen the muscles that support and elongate the spine.

Learning how to use poles for walking, hiking and/or mobility presumes that you’re in optimal posture and here’s a first step.  This basic  movement is the foundation of how we start; it’s designed to help you connect to the muscles that support your shoulders.

Scapular Retraction:

  • Seated on edge of chair with feet flat
  • Back straight, dorsal glide (gentle chin tuck which lengthens your cervical spine)
  • Tuck your tummy
  • Rest your hands on your thighs
  • Shoulders relaxed (roll up, around & back)
  • Move hands up thighs toward core keeping length in spine
  • Elbows straight back
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together and hold for count of 2
  • Repeat several times until you feel slight fatigue in muscles
  • Roll shoulders up, around, down and back between each movement

Same movement with Scapular Depression

  • As hands move up thighs and shoulders squeeze together, at the end of the movement focus on shoulder blades sliding down the back like you’re putting the bottom tips of your shoulder blades into your back pockets
  • Hold for a count of 2 or deep relaxed breath
  • Repeat approximately 8  times (again until slight fatigue)
  • Do 2nd Set after rolling out your shoulders

In all our classes and seminars we show a basic shoulder HEART.

Imagine a clock, or half a clock from 12 to 6:

  • Pull your shoulders up towards your ears – this is 12:00 (upper trapezius)
  • Roll your shoulders up and back towards 1:00 (posterior deltoids)
  • Squeeze gently together and back – this is 3:00 (rhomboids)
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades down as though you were putting them GENTLY into your back pockets – this is 4:30 and the essence of scapular depression (latissimus dorsi)
  • Relax all the way down – at 6:00

You’ll achieve more benefit from all of these movements if you focus doing them slowly and smoothly.  It’s better to mindfully do just a few and really FEEL the muscles activating than to rush through them.

Everything we do is FORWARD.  From driving to cooking, gardening and…  LIVING.    Do this shoulder heart at the computer, in the car, out on the trail when using poles – do them all throughout your day – 457 every day for the rest of your life!  They feel good, relieve stress and are great for posture!

For more info, see our wellness page

SCAPULAR STABILIZATION is the position from which you want to do your upper body strength training!


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  1. […] assist in a pushing action.   If your shoulders are in the optimal position (it’s called scapular retraction and depression – imagine rolling your shoulders up, around, down and back as if you were putting your […]