Shoulder Blade Circles (CARs) for neck pain, back pain or shoulder pain

Shoulder blade scapular circles/carsThe shoulder blades or scapulae have muscles that extend to the neck, thoracic spine, ribs and shoulder.  The shoulder blades, therefore, can influence these other regions. Having control/mobility over the scapula would thus be a potential area to work on if you are having problems in these other areas.

I often have my athletes and my desk athlete’s perform scapular circles if they have any problems in these regions. They are easy to do and can be done anywhere.

Shoulder blade / scapular circles (CARs)

Shoulder blade circles/scapular circles (CARs) can and should be performed with the arms in any position.

To show the movement of the shoulder blade I will perform this movement, in the video, with my arms out in front of me. I will only move one arm so you can see how much the shoulder blade contributes to the movement. Keep in mind you can perform this exercise with both shoulders simultaneously.

I often start my athletes off with their hands resting on their laps. This tends to be the easiest way to start. As they get more accustom to controlling the movement of the shoulder blade the arm can be placed in different positions.

start by pulling the shoulder blades together. Once you’ve hit your max then keep the shoulder blades and raise them up as high as you can. Once you have reached your max then round/reach the shoulder blades forward as far as you can, keeping the should blades up. then when you reach the end point keep it there and drop the shoulder blade down.

Perform this movement slowly.

Take about 30 to 60 seconds to complete one circle.

Dr Notley

 

Quadruped Hip Circles (CARS)

This is another one my exercises that I give to my athletes/patients in the controlled articular rotations (CARs) category. The training method and acronym is popularized by Dr Andreo Spina. It was taught to me at a Functional Range Conditioning course in Winnipeg.  I call them “circles” to my patients because it’s easier for them to understand.  What I like about CARs is that they are easy, yet challenging, and expose to my athletes areas of mobility that they may be lacking in.

The intent of this exercise is to challenge the hip at its end ranges. The end range of motion is commonly the weakest area. This helps us to strengthen this region and also helps to keep our hips joint healthy through all ranges of motion.

Unlike stretching, which passively improves the  range of motion, this movement makes the muscles work at the end range of motion.

Hip Circles in Quadruped (CARS)


Hip Circles can be performed on their own or, ideally, at the end of a stretching session.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Start in a quadruped position, on all fours, lift the knee up to your chest limiting the amount of rounding of the lower back.
  2. Keep the knee up and move the knee to the outside as far as possible, keeping the pelvis horizontal.
  3. Keep the knee there and rotate the hip inwards attempting to lift the foot higher than the knee. Try not to hike the pelvis up during this point in the exercise
  4. keep the leg up and bring it back behind you. Try not to over arch the back at this point in the exercise.
  5. Return to the start.
  6. This can also be performed in the reverse order

To really challenge yourself perform one repetition for 30 to 60 seconds

Dr Notley

If you are having pain or you are not moving well and want to move better make an appointment

 

Standing hip circles (CARS)

This exercise is part of a type of exercise called controlled articular rotations (CARs). The training method and acronym is popularized by Dr Andreo Spina. It was taught to me at a Functional Range Conditioning course in Winnipeg.  I call them “circles” to my patients because it’s easier for them to understand.  What I like about CARs is that they are easy, yet challenging, and my athletes/patients like to do them.

The intent of this exercise is to challenge the hip at its end ranges. The end range of motion is commonly the weakest area. This helps us to strengthen this region and also helps to keep our hips joint healthy through all ranges of motion.

Unlike stretching, which passively improves the  range of motion, this movement makes the muscles work at the end range of motion.

Standing hip Circles (CARS)

Standing hip CARs can be performed on their own or, ideally, at the end of a stretching session.

This exercise can be performed with a pole, stick, or just balancing on one leg. Using a pole helps you if you have balance issues.  If you can stand on one leg but with movement you struggle a bit, the stick will add a little bit of support to help you perform the exercise. As you get better, you can work at balancing on one leg while performing the exercise.

  1. Lift the knee up as high as you can without rounding the lower back.
  2. Keep the knee up and move the knee to the outside.
  3. Keep the knee there and rotate the hip inwards. The foot comes up to be inline with the knee. Try not to hike the pelvis up during this point in the exercise
  4. keep the leg up and bring it back behind you. Try not to over arch the back at this point in the exercise.
  5. Return to the start.
  6. This can also be performed in the reverse order

To really challenge yourself perform one repetition for 30 to 60 seconds

Dr Notley

If you are having pain or you are not moving well and want to move better make an appointment

 

Wall facing squats

This exercise is often used to improve squat and deadlift movement quality. It is also, often prescribed to improve the mobility of the thoracic (upper back) spine.

To perform the exercise, start with your feet close, but not necessarily touching the wall. Toes can be slightly turned out but not so much that you are doing a plie.

Your hands can be up, like in the video, overhead or down to the floor. Start to squat down. Make sure you push your buttocks out behind you and don’t let your knees buckle in. You will likely feel tightness in the middle back between the shoulder blades or just below.

This exercise can be tough for some.  Many people have troubles squatting while others don’t have the control.  There is a risk in falling backwards during this exercise so don’t have anything behind you that you might hit your head on. Some people will have lower back pain with this exercise tighten up your belly so you are not arching in the lower back.

Pain is not desirable for this exercise.  If you are experiencing pain then you need to come see me.

Work towards lowering the hips below the knees.

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If you are suffering with back, neck, hip, shoulder, etc pain I can work with you to guide you in the right direction.

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Exercise: Seated Thoracic Extensions

The mid back is often a problem that I see when treating my athletes. Living in a forward slouched posture leads to the spine rounding forward. This problem can often be seen in those with neck pain and shoulder pain.

If you are dealing with pain in between the shoulder blades, shoulders or neck this might be something I would give to you to perform.