What do students, athletes, office workers, people working from home, and almost everyone with a smart phone have in common? POOR NECK AND UPPER BACK POSTURE. With the increasing amount of time we spend looking at technology, many of us are developing Upper Cross Syndrome. With upper cross syndrome, we develop that rounded head, forward shoulder posture. Maintaining this posture for copious hours while working, or browsing through your smart phone, results in:
-Weakness/lengthening of the lower trapezius and sternocleidomastoid/neck flexors
-Tightening/shortening of the upper trapezius, levator scapulae, pectoralis minor and major
My main focus here with upper cross syndrome is the weakening of the lower trapezius. Recall that the lower trapezius acts to depress the scapula. With upper cross syndrome, the lower trapezius becomes weak, and the upper trapezius and levator scapulae become tight, often causing neck pain, shoulder pain, upper back discomfort, scapula dyskinesis and other complications. Those suffering from upper cross syndrome also tend to improperly execute weight lifting and sport-related movements.
While we need to focus on improving our posture, and stretching our pectoralis minor, many neglect strengthening our lower trapezius. Why? Well, it's not the sexiest or most attractive thing to train in the gym. "Hey bro, how much can you depress with your scapulae?" said no one ever, right?
If you are comfortable with performing pull-ups, I suggest you try hanging scapula depressions. This is my personal favorite for training scapula depression as I tend to feel a strong contraction of the lower trapezius. You can perform this exercise with your body weight, added resistance with a dip belt, or assisted via resistance bands. Check out the video below on how I perform this exercise. I apologize for the less than ideal angle. I perform a few reps of weighted and bodyweight.
Hope you found my perspective on training scapula depression useful!
Thank you for reading, Dan