3 Great Lower Trapezius Exercises You’ve Never Thought Of

So the scapulae are kind of a big deal.  They help us do cool stuff in the gym and help keep our shoulders healthy.  What goes on in the shoulder...
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So the scapulae are kind of a big deal.  They help us do cool stuff in the gym and help keep our shoulders healthy.  What goes on in the shoulder blade is very important from a shoulder impingement perspective.  One overlooked but important muscle in this whole ordeal is the lower trapezius.  During overhead motion the lower trapezius functions to stabilize the scapula to minimize lateral displacement and to minimize scapular elevation by countering the pull of the levator scapulae.

Research shows an association between shoulder pathology and abnormal muscle firing of the lower trapezius.  

Therefore we probably want some exercises that preferentially target the lower trapezius to get it functioning properly again.  Now, scapular retraction is one exercise that does this.  We all know that scapular retraction is important for most shoulder rehabilitation programs.  What we don’t talk about much is resisted scapular depression.  The seated press-up is one such exercise that fits the bill here and routinely scores high on lower trapezius EMG studies for muscle activation.  

The problem with scapular depression and the seated press-up in my book is that it’s hard to progressively overload.  We need challenging exercises to continually challenge our athletes.  Well, I’ve got a few ideas on how to accomplish this.  This week’s article gives 3 advancements of the seated press-up that will allow you to progressively overload your patients.  Check the video below:

3 Great Lower Trap Exercises You've Never Tried The lower trap and serratus anterior are 2 muscles that are important for shoulder health. Some research shows over activity of the upper trap in individuals with shoulder pain so several EMG studies were conducted to find exercises with a high activity of lower trap and serratus and low activity of the upper trap. The "seated press up" depicted in the bottom left routinely scores high in this department. I'm a big fan of this exercise, especially since it fits well into a program that wishes to return people to ring work. Like any other exercise, we need harder variations to continue challenging our athletes with more difficulty. The paralette support depicted top left takes the exercise up a notch and the ring support on the right is the most challenging. Give them a shot and share if you know anyone who could benefit from these. @powermonkeyfitness @shift_movementscience @crossfitverve @themovementfix @thebarbellphysio @modernmanualtherapy @jsshane #twitter #physicaltherapy

A video posted by Daniel Pope (@fitnesspainfree) on

Give these a shot and then get back to me by responding in the comments below.

If you’d like to see how I program shoulder health exercises such as these into my online training then click this link.

Trap on,

Dan Pope DPT, CSCS

References:

  • McCabe, R., Orishimo, K., McHugh, M., & Nicholas, S. (2007, February). SURFACE ELECTROMYGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF THE LOWER TRAPEZIUS MUSCLE DURING EXERCISES PERFORMED BELOW NINETY DEGREES OF SHOULDER ELEVATION IN HEALTHY SUBJECTS. North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.
Categories
Injury Preventionphysical therapyProgressionsrehabilitationscapulaShoulder
2 Comments on this post.
  • Kim Lerner
    23 June 2016 at 10:26
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    Would this be a good exercise to do before performing overhead press exercises in those that deal with shoulder discomfort at times? My thought is it would “fire up” the lower traps??

    • djpope
      29 June 2016 at 10:26
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      It may be a good activation exercise if you think the low traps aren’t doing their job. I’d try and see if it makes a difference. This usually isn’t my go to for getting people pain free with overhead press. Check out Jeremy Louis symptom modification procedure for that.

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