Scapular winging and how to work around it Scapular winging and how to work around it

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Thread: Scapular winging and how to work around it

  1. #1
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    Jul 2019
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    Default Scapular winging and how to work around it

    Hello Starting Strength team. I have scapular winging, and from browsing previous posts on this forum it is my understanding that this is due to a long thoracic nerve issue. I am inquiring today because I am determined to not let this ailment get in the way of my training, and am wondering what lifts if any should be avoided? For example when doing bench with the scapula retracted my upper back is not flat and the blades of by shoulder are like stilts holding me up. I fear that once I reach higher weights that this has the potential to injure me. I however have the mindset that if I quit lifting or working out then it is the same conclusion that I would have if I lifted, injured myself, and then was unable to work out. Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Both sides are winging?

  3. #3
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    Jul 2019
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    Correct. I would say right side is more severe than the left however

  4. #4
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    Hey LizardWizard, I have a few questions that will hopefully better help me with a recommendation.

    How was this diagnosed?

    What symptoms are you experiencing?

    Have you started training yet?

    Also, what's your height and weight?
    Last edited by Nick D'Agostino; 07-10-2019 at 07:01 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick D'Agostino View Post
    Hey LizardWizard, I have a few questions that will hopefully better help me with a recommendation.

    How was this diagnosed?

    What symptoms are you experiencing?

    Have you started training yet?

    Also, what's your height and weight?
    1) I recently got into a motorcycle accident (about 4 months ago) and met with an orthopedic surgeon to have surgery on my broken ankle where they put 2 screws in. While I was there I brought up my winged scapula that was first brought to my attention during a personal trainer consult from my works gym. The orthopedic surgeon did a few x-rays and informed me that he doesn't believe that physical therapy is a good call because he personally had never seen anyone correct this postural issue. He did however mention that he fully encourages me to continue lifting, so that is what I am looking to do.

    2) general shoulder instability (crunching, popping, grinding) during certain movements. This leads to what feels like joint inflammation, and is uncomfortable enough to scare me into not working out typically although lately I have just been ignoring it.

    3) I have just recently started getting back into lifting due to the fact that my ankle and hand was broken from the motorcycle accident. In the past week I have been focusing on re-learning the proper form for the main compound lifts. I am mostly just looking to get some information about what issues can arise from doing the compound movements with a compromised serratus anterior in order to better educate myself about what I am potentially doing to my body. Surely this is an important muscle for many of the lifts, but is it absolutely necessary? Have you personally coached any lifters that have this and seen them make good progress?

    4) I am 6'3 183 pounds

    Thank you.

  6. #6
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    First, it sounds like you have found an excellent orthopedic surgeon that you should recommend to others. From what you have just told me I think it is very unlikely that your serratus anterior is compromised and that your winged scapula is anatomically normal for you. A true winged scapula is caused by a severe insult to the long thoracic nerve or the serratus anterior muscle. This is something that would stick out in your mind similariy to the broken ankle. You would know the moment it happened. I have coached many lifters who have scapulas that are not pretty to look at, but I have not coached someone with a true winged scapula. It is also important to note the scapula behaves differently when loaded. The load forces muscles to contract harder. I will not be surprised if load makes an immediate visual difference to how your scapula behaves as you go overhead. There is an excellent chance progressively loading your shoulder using the bench and press, getting stronger, and building muscle mass will improve or eliminate the visual scapular winging. Hopefully, this gives you peace of mind to start training.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick D'Agostino View Post
    First, it sounds like you have found an excellent orthopedic surgeon that you should recommend to others. From what you have just told me I think it is very unlikely that your serratus anterior is compromised and that your winged scapula is anatomically normal for you. A true winged scapula is caused by a severe insult to the long thoracic nerve or the serratus anterior muscle. This is something that would stick out in your mind similariy to the broken ankle. You would know the moment it happened. I have coached many lifters who have scapulas that are not pretty to look at, but I have not coached someone with a true winged scapula. It is also important to note the scapula behaves differently when loaded. The load forces muscles to contract harder. I will not be surprised if load makes an immediate visual difference to how your scapula behaves as you go overhead. There is an excellent chance progressively loading your shoulder using the bench and press, getting stronger, and building muscle mass will improve or eliminate the visual scapular winging. Hopefully, this gives you peace of mind to start training.
    Thank you very much Nick. Your advice and knowledge have definitely given me the peace of mind needed to continue. I will work on covering my ugly scapulas with muscle haha.

  8. #8
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    Nov 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLizardWizard View Post
    Thank you very much Nick. Your advice and knowledge have definitely given me the peace of mind needed to continue. I will work on covering my ugly scapulas with muscle haha.
    Your welcome

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