Episode 550: Wall Slide [Perform it Right!]
When performing any exercise, make sure that it is in line with your intent! People often compensate when performing wall slides with excessive scapular elevation. If strengthening the scapular elevators – upper trapezius and levator scapula – is the goal such as in patients with TOS (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome), then performing the wall slide with scapular elevation is not a problem. That being said, the wall slide shown here is designed to target the serratus anterior by maximizing scapular upward rotation, NOT elevation! Why is this important?
Excessive activation of the deltoid and upper trapezius muscles could be counterproductive for scapulohumeral rhythm during shoulder elevation (Ellenbecker et al 2016). Increased upper trapezius and anterior deltoid muscle activity can cause reduced strength and coordination in the force couple between the lower trapezius and serratus anterior. Excessive upper trapezius and anterior deltoid muscle activity have also been linked to sub-acromial impingement.
In order to achieve full overhead motion, you need to ensure that you have adequate mobility at the glenohumeral joint, scapulothoracic joint, and thoracic spine. For many of those who lack shoulder mobility, it often isn't the actual glenohumeral joint that is limited. Rather, it’s lack of full scapular upward rotation or full thoracic spine extension that is to blame.
In this video the black blob represents the scapula:
1️⃣Place pressure into the wall to ensure you are engaging your scapula, which will make it easier to avoid excessive elevation of your shoulder girdle.
2️⃣There is roughly a 2:1 ration of glenohumeral joint to scapulothoracic joint motion. With 180 degrees of total shoulder flexion, will ideally have about 60 degrees of scapular upward rotation.
3️⃣You have the option of externally rotating your shoulder as you elevate, this will help inhibit the pecs which often take over during shoulder elevation.
4️⃣A progression of this exercise is shown with a resistance band + a Wall life (which emphasizes the lower trapezius)