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The serratus anterior is on the side of your body and attaches to your shoulder blades and rib cage. When it contracts, it protracts your shoulder blades, pulling them forward along your rib cage and away from your spine. This muscle plays a large role in stabilizing the shoulder joint. When the serratus is weak, the rotator cuff muscles cannot work properly, and you run an increased risk of shoulder injury. Supine exercises for the serratus anterior can strengthen the muscle and promote proper functioning of the shoulder joint.
Supine Scapular Punch
For the scapular punch exercise, lie on your back and lift your right arm, with the elbow straight, in front of your body until your fingers point toward the ceiling. Then, move your fingers toward the ceiling. As your fingers move, feel your shoulder blade gliding along your ribs. Hold the extended position for approximately one second and return to the starting position. All movement should come from your shoulder blades; avoid twisting your torso to the left to reach your fingers higher. After working your right serratus anterior, switch arms.
Supine Elbow Extension
For an alternate supine exercise, you can lie on a bench and lift your arm over your head. Bend your elbow and let your hand fall toward the floor behind your head. Adjust your position so that your elbow is flush with the end of the bench. Keeping your upper arm immobile, straighten your elbow so that your forearm is parallel to the floor. Then, bend the elbow to return to the starting position. Once you've done your desired number of reps, switch arms.
Tips and Techniques
Because the serratus anterior is typically a weak muscle, start off your training with no weight. Work up to two sets of 20 reps to build endurance before adding weight. When you do add weight, increase the load gradually. Start off with a light dumbbell or medicine ball.
If you are currently experiencing shoulder pain or impingement, do not do these exercises unless advised by a health care professional or an experienced trainer who has worked with you. If any of these exercises cause shoulder pain, do not continue doing them. Seek the advice of an expert who can evaluate your condition.