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Principles of Pilates (4) Scapular (Shoulder Blade) Movement and Stabilisation


Principles of Pilates (4) Scapular (Shoulder Blade) Movement and Stabilisation

This Pilates principle gives a sense of stability and width in the whole shoulder girdle in the Pilates exercises but without giving way to excessive movement.  The scapulae glide across the rib cage and it is important to stabilise them so the arms have a point of anchor and the cervical spine (back of the neck) is supported.  This helps keep the neck and shoulder muscles from overworking.  The scapulae provide great mobility at the upper limbs so we need to counterbalance this with stability in all our exercises.

Test this yourself from a supine position.  Inhale and raise your arms to shoulder height, exhale and stay.  On your next inhalation reach your arms towards the ceiling keeping your arms directly above your shoulders separating the shoulder blades, exhale release your shoulder blades back to neutral.  Repeat this a few times feeling the space between your spine and shoulder blades widening slightly.  Now take this the other way, inhale give the shoulder blades a tiny squeeze together, lessening the distance very slightly between your shoulder blades and your spine.

We can also use our shoulder blade movement and stabilisation to lift the shoulders up to the ears sliding them along the mat as we inhale and then exhale glide the arms and fingers along the mat so the shoulder blades feel a gentle downwards pull into a soft v-shape.  Avoid allowing the shoulders to round forwards.

Repeat this practice a couple of times and see how your neck and shoulder area feel relaxed and tension free.


Stabilise the scapulae (shoulder blades) during the initiation of every exercise – very important when lifting part of the supporting side of the body away from the mat as in this Side Leg Lift.
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