Many times, we focus on exercises specifically for the shoulder joint, or glenohumeral joint. This is the ball-and-socket that we normally give all the credit for moving the arm.
While this joint is very important for shoulder and arm mobility, we can’t forget about the other areas in the shoulder complex that play a crucial role.
One of these areas is the shoulder blade, or scapula.
In order to effectively move the arm, the shoulder blade must move with us as well. Any pain or limitations in the mobility of the shoulder blade can lead to dysfunction in the shoulder and arm.
This week, we’ll be focusing on an important muscle in your thoracic region, that connects to the shoulder blade. The serratus anterior!
The serratus anterior has attachments on our ribs 1-8 or 9 and the top, middle and lower borders of the shoulder blade. This muscle is present on both sides of the body.
The serratus anterior is responsible for protracting the shoulder blade, or moving it forward and to the side, as well as upward rotation of the shoulder blade. This upward rotation is necessary for arm elevation, such as with reaching overhead.
This muscle is very important to help stabilize the shoulder blade during rest and when the arm is in motion.
The serratus punch is a very easy exercise to do and targets this muscle directly!
Step 1: Starting Position:
- Choose a surface to lay on your back. This can be the floor, your bed or your couch.
- Bend the knees and place the feet flat on the surface to support the back.
- Position the arms so that they are reaching up towards the ceiling.
- Your elbows will be straight. You can make fists with your hands, like you’re getting ready for a punch. Palms will face each other.
Step 2: The Punch:
- While keeping the elbows straight, punch the arms towards the ceiling.
- As you perform the punch, the shoulder blades should lift off the surface. Keep in mind this is a very subtle movement.
- Hold for 2 seconds, then return to your starting position.
- Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets.
Tip: You may want to try this exercise for the first time without any weight or resistance to determine your baseline tolerance. If the exercise is too easy, then free weights are usually easier to use versus a resistance band. Begin with ~2-3# in each hand, and then you can gradually progress from there. If you don’t have free weights, you can get very creative with water bottles or canned items!
That’s the serratus punch!