Scapular Depression Syndrome

Scapular Depression Syndrome

  • Common Medical Diagnoses:
  • Glenohumeral joint impingement
  • Rotator Cuff Tear
  • Humeral subluxation
  • Acromioclavicular joint pain
  • neck pain with or without radiating arm pain
  • pain in the upper trap and or levator scap
  • thoracic outlet syndrome


Various upper body pain (see the above diagnoses) that is due to the scapula sitting too low on the chest wall due to overly lengthened scapular elevator muscles and tight scapular depressor muscles.  Other characteristics that might be present could be a long neck, tall, long lanky, short and or heavy arms.


  • Depressed shoulders – clavicle horizontal or lateral portion lower than medial.
  • Superior angle of the scapula is lower than T2.
  • Decreased pain with passive elevation of the scapula either at rest or during motion.


  • Decrease the length of the upper trapezius and possibly the levator scapula.
  • Tape as needed for support.
  • Reestablish balance between the upper and lower trapezius.
  • Improve the mobility of the scapular depressors, especially the lats and pecs.

8 thoughts on “Scapular Depression Syndrome

    1. Take the arms overhead and perform a shrug. In the overhead position, the scapula is upwardly rotated (a function of low trap, upper trap, and serratus) and the levator is elongated (making it passively insufficient to create scapular elevation). You’ll know the upper trap is doing it if you see that the scapula maintains upward rotation. If you notice the scapula shifting into downward rotation, then levator is working. Sometimes shrugging as you pushup and away will encourage more upward rotation. Eric Cressey does great videos of wall slides to 135 abduction that work in a similar manner.

      1. This is a good question. I believe Sahrmann’s book has a few good examples. I have done it with both kinesio and leukotape, depending on the weakness of the upward rotators. I usually lay one piece from the acromion up along the upper trap toward the neck and a second piece from the superior medial angle of the scapula in an inferior direction. The first one should help upper trap and the second should help lower trap. You could also do one from the medial border of the scapula laterally, to help serratus, but I’m not sure that would work as well.


      I tend to have trouble believing that tape can inhibit or facilitate muscles, but the directions are right and I would use a stronger leuko or McConnell tape rather than kinesiotape, but basically the piece along the upper trap should help bring the scapula up. The piece along the serratus should help upwardly rotate the scapula. The piece medially should assist in posterior tilt of the scapula.

      You should use the same thought process for selecting exercise.

  1. Becky

    Does taping help with over exertion of the upper trap? If I over use the upper trap it triggers a migraine and I know I need to strengthen my middle and lowe trap.

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