The scapular push-up strengthens the serratus anterior, a muscle that essentially holds the shoulder blade tight to the rib cage to prevent scapular winging. It's a crucial muscle for optimal shoulder stability.
Assume a standard push-up position. Keeping your elbows locked, retract the shoulder blades so your torso sinks a couple of inches toward the floor. Now protract your shoulder blades fully, so your upper back takes on a slightly hunched look. Return to the starting position, and repeat 10 to 12 times.
Behind-the-Neck Band Pull-Apart
This exercise strengthens the lower trapezius muscles, which are very important for adequate scapular upward rotation and overall shoulder health.
Stand with your arms extended straight overhead and grasp a short resistance band with your hands at shoulder width and palms facing forward. By pulling the shoulder blades back and down and flexing the elbows, lower the band to a position behind your neck. The band will stretch several inches as this action is performed.
You'll feel the effort in the muscles at the base of your shoulder blades. Do not let your chin protrude forward; keep it tucked. Pause briefly with the band behind your neck and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Overhead External Shoulder Rotation
This exercise strengthens the shoulder external rotators, enhancing shoulder stability during the performance of overhead arm actions.
Stand with your right upper arm extended away from your body at shoulder level, your elbow bent 90 degrees and your shoulder rotated internally so your forearm is pointing toward the floor (in line with your body). Hold a small dumbbell (three to five pounds) in your right hand.
Rotate your shoulder externally 180 degrees, stopping when your right forearm is pointing toward the ceiling. Return to the starting position. Complete 10 repetitions and repeat the exercise with your left arm.