Pilates Builds Shoulder Strength + Stability
The muscles around your shoulder blades and rib cage called Serratus Anterior serve as a postural role for your upper body, and keep your shoulder blades on your back, where they belong!
The Serratus Anterior muscles help with good shoulder positioning or as we often say in Pilates “shoulder girdle stability”. Without shoulder stability, clients suffer from neck and shoulder tension, built up from poor posture, excessive sitting, and poor shoulder movement patterns.
Serratus Anterior, when properly engaged has these protective features
- Protracts your shoulders preventing “winging” of your shoulders blades;
- Helps keep your shoulder blades down, avoiding neck tension or pain;
- Helps you to hold good posture;
- Aids in respiration allowing for an open de-compressed rib cage
Movement of the arms is also contingent on strong functioning of these muscles in conjunction with the rotator cuff muscles.
The Serratus Anterior is a large muscle that wraps around the outsides of your rib cage like long-taloned calls attaching underneath your should blades at their inner rims.
The Serratus Anterior helps your arms move as follows:
Serratus Anterior “protracts” your shoulder blades
Protraction draws your shoulder blades away from each other, towards the front of your rib cage, stabilizing your shoulders.
Your arms are thereby rolled forward as in a plank /push up position. If your serratus anterior fail to do this, your shoulder blades will ricochet right back into your body after you push, greatly decreasing the power and effectiveness of your effort – and possibly tweaking your shoulders.
See the difference below when we collapse the shoulders impinging the neck. The top woman is winging with her shoulder blades and the other sinking. At worst over time a rotator cuff tear can be another result of lack of Serratus Anterior engagement.
Serratus Anterior works with your rhomboids to keep shoulder blades down.
Serratus Anterior and your rhomboids work synergistically to keep your shoulder blades in place, keeping your shoulder blades down, as well as keeping them from flying apart or collapsing inwards
Most importantly though, when they co-engage together the Serratus Anterior and Rhomboids help keep your shoulder blades down, as well as keeping them from flying apart or collapsing inwards.
Serratus Anterior + Rhomboids raise your arms above shoulder height
When you think of pulling the back of your arm pits towards the ceiling in raising your arms, your serratus anteriors on each side tilt your shoulder blades upwards at their outer edges. Your lower trapezius helps with this process as well, to help keep your neck free and clear.
Pilates builds shoulder strength and therefore, stability focusing on the Serratus Anterior. When properly engaged it helps keep your shoulder blades where they belong on your back, not up around your neck!