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Scapular Muscle Activity from Selected Strengthening Exercises Performed at Low and High Intensities
Authors: Christoffer H. Anderson, Mette K. Zebis, Charlotte Saervell, Emil Sundstrup, Markus D. Jackobsen, Gisela SjoGaard, and Loris L. Andersen
To observe the scapula (shoulder) muscle activity during certain strengthening exercises at different intensities. The authors were looking to see if the increased resistance alters the effectiveness of an exercise and to see which exercises activate the scapular muscles most effectively using an electromyography (EMG).
1 arm row, Prone Flexion (supermans), Prone Abduction (cobras) recorded a high activation of the mid traps. Prone Abduction (cobras) and Prone Flexion (Supermans) activated the lower traps the best. Push Up Press and Shoulder Press activated the Serratus Anterior the best. The Press Up, Prone Flexion (Supermans), 1 arm row, Push Up Plus, and Prone Abduction (cobras) activated the lower traps more effectively then the upper traps. This was decided by an activation of 10% or more and was determined using an EMG. These are the exercises you should do in order to prevent or try to eliminate shoulder or upper back/neck pain. Overall, a higher intensity (more weight) exhibited a higher muscle activation then a lower intensity (less weight).
What this means to you
Neck and upper back pain are common among sedentary adults. This is due to a distortion in the activation of the upper traps, mid traps, lower traps, and Serratus Anterior. The mid-lower trap strength is what needs to be increased in relation to the upper traps. Also, overhead athletes who exhibit impingement signs are a result of this distortion. This means in order to stabilize your shoulder and get out of neck/upper back/shoulder pain you should include the following exercises into your routine. 1 arm row, Prone Flexion (supermans), Prone Abduction (cobras), Press up, and Push up Plus. You should work up to a relatively high intensity to get the best results.
Christoffer H. Anderson, Mette K. Zebis, Charlotte Saervell, Emil Sundstrup, Markus D. Jackobsen, Gisela SjoGaard, and Loris L. Andersen. “Scapular Muscle Activity from Selected Strengthening Exercises Performed at Low and High Intensities.” The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26 (September 2012) 2408-2416.