Scapular Abduction Syndrome

Scapular Abduction Syndrome

Medical Diagnoses:

  • Glenohumeral joint impingement
  • humeral subluxation (anteriorly)
  • tendinopathy – biceps, infraspinatus, and supraspinatus
  • bursitis – infradeltoid
  • interscapular pain in teh rhomboid and middle trapezius
  • sternoclavicular joint pain


Pain in the shoulders or upper back related to the scapula sitting too far away from the spine (>3 inches).   This positioning is evident at rest and gets worse with active elevation of the arm.  Increased muscle length of the trapezius and rhomboids and decreased muscle length of the serratus anterior cause this problem.

Diagnostic Tests:

  • Lengthened trapezius and rhomboids
  • Shortened deltoid or supraspinatus.
  • Hypertrophied scapulohumeral muscles and possibly pec major.
  • Short pectoralis major.
  • Decreased pain with corrected scapular posture.


  • Improve the muscle length and mobility of the pecs:

Self Release for the Pecs – Ben Bruno.  I like these stretches except for number 2.  I feel that number 2 can be performed correctly, but it also can be performed incorrectly adding stress to the anterior joint capsule of the shoulder.  So if you know how to do it, then go ahead, otherwise skip it. ,

  • Improve muscle length and mobility of the serratus anterior, deltoid, and supraspinatus.
  • Decrease the length and improve the strength of the trapezius and rhomboids.
  • Taping for postural support.

5 thoughts on “Scapular Abduction Syndrome

  1. interestedobserver

    Whuch exercises would you reccomend for a person with scap abduction syndrome and downward rotation syndromes combined? Plus overactive lats. Would face pulls or rows at chest height be a good option, to offset the downward rotation from the rhomboids? Also, wall angels with arms raised to stretch the lats?

    1. all of those would be good options. You have to figure out if you are just abducted or also downwardly rotated. Most people have a bit of downward rotation with abduction. In that case rows, might reinforce the downward rotation.

  2. interestedobserver

    Basically my thinking is any of the standard rotator cuff exercises would worsen the scap abduction syndrome. Hands are internally rotated and kyphosis is there due to overactive pecs, arched low back (overactive lats, weak core). So rows with elbows at shoulder height without extension should strengthen mid traps, rhomboids but without overactivating the lats and biceps? Or perpetuating downward rotation. For Lower traps, wall angels and prone Ys. Basically fight the pecs, stretch the lats. Stop the Lev Scap from going nuts trying to hold the shoulder blades together.

    1. all good ideas. I’m not sure standard rotator cuff exercises are bad. I really like ER at 90 abduction. It creates some downward tilt. I prefer to do this prone or quadruped.

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