If you’ve ever had a patient come in with a shoulder injury, you’ve probably recommended a variety of upper-body plyometric training programs. For athletes and adults alike, these workouts are crucial to regaining their strength and getting back to optimal movement and performance. Moreover, plyometric exercises are easy to perform at home, in the gym or on the road. Earlier this year, Annelies and colleagues explored these exercises in an effort to discover the most effective plyometric exercises to achieve optimal scapular muscle activity.

“The aim of this study was first, to investigate scapular muscle activity in plyometric exercises to support exercise selection in practice and second, to enhance understanding of how scapular muscles are recruited during the back and forth movement phase of these exercises.” (Annelies et al. 2016).

Analyzing the activity of scapular muscles during plyometric exercises

Thirty-two subjects performed ten plyometric exercises while scapular muscle activity was recorded. Muscles analyzed included:

  • Upper trapezius
  • Middle trapezius
  • Lower trapezius
  • Serratus anterior

The results of the study concluded that plyometric shoulder exercises require moderate to high scapular muscle activity (Annelies et al. 2016). EMG activation levels showed:

  • Highest middle and lower trapezius muscle activity: Prone plyometric external rotation and flexion
  • Highest serratus anterior muscle activity: Plyometric external rotation and flexion and plyometric push up on a Bosu
  • Minimal levels of upper trapezius muscle activity: Side-lying plyometric external rotation and horizontal abduction or plyometric push up on a Bosu

The authors concluded that the results of this study support the selection of these exercises for clinical application. Which plyometric shoulder exercise do you recommend to your patients? Comment below!

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