The Scapulae and their Movement

The scapulae are often referred to as "wings". When referred to in the singular, one wing is called a scapula. We have 2 of them, one on each side of the body. Each is a triangular piece of bone that sits at the upper back part of the rib cage.

The scapula connects to the shoulder girdle in 4 ways. Only one of those ways is bone to bone, at the acromioclavicular joint (A-C joint). The A-C joint is basically the tip of the shoulder. To feel this joint, take your left hand to your right clavicle or collarbone. Feel along your clavicle until you reach the "edge". That edge is where the acromion of the scapula and the clavicle meet, hence the name acromioclavicular joint. You can continue your exploration by taking your left hand to the back of your shoulder where you will feel more "boneyness". That is part of your scapula. Take a moment and explore how the scapula and clavicle come together to form the A-C joint.

The 3 other connections are via muscle. The scapula connects to the humerus or upper arm bone with muscle, it connects to the rib cage with muscle and it connects to the spine with muscle. It is this characteristic - alot of muscular connection and very little bone connection - that provides the shoulder joint with a high degree of mobility.

The purpose of the scapulae is to enable the arm to move smoothly and with full range of motion while maintaining stability at the shoulder joint.



Imagining the Action of the Scapula

To imagine the action visualize one side of your body. Imagine your scapula and your arm as the barrier at a Train crossing. As the barrier (your arm) rises up toward the sky, a heavy counterweight (your scapula) arcs down.

As you are reading this, take your right hand behind your body and touch your left scapula. Keeping your right hand on the scapula, move your left arm, forward and up, to the side, in a circle, with your elbow bent and straight. Feel it glide under your fingers.

Taking the Imagination into Exploration


Come into standing. With your hand still on your scapula, move into warrior 1 only one arm will be in the air. Then move into warrior 2. As you feel the scapula glide under your hand, which direction is your scapula moving? Or as you move from warrior 1 to warrior 2 do you feel more of a twist through your spine rather than a movement of your scapula?

Now, move into Uttanasana. But this time, instead of moving at your hips, move mostly through your spine, rounding through your rib cage. Feel what happens to your scapula. Which direction does it move? How do the surrounding muscles feel?

Use this exploration as a foundation to explore the movement of your scapulae in different yoga positions. Do you feel them being stuck anywhere? Does it feel like either of them move too much?

I will leave you there.....Happy Exploring!!

Susi