A Critical and Theoretical Perspective on Scapular Stabilization: What Does It Really Mean, and Are We On the Right Track?

Stabilization exercises have been a focus and mainstay of much therapeutic and performance training programs for the past decade. Whether it is core stabilization for the spine or scapular stabilization, clinicians and trainers alike have endorsed these programs based largely on conceptual theory and anecdotal experience. The notion that an unstable scapula is related to shoulder dysfunction and pathology is well accepted, but is it accurate? This perspective intends to challenge the concept of scapula stabilization by applying biomechanical and motor control constructs. The objectives are to critically examine the current beliefs surrounding scapular stabilization, discuss the definitions of stabilization and stability in the context of the scapulothoracic region, and evaluate the key evidence regarding scapular stabilization and scapular dyskinesis. The authors explore several new approaches that may impact understanding of normal and atypical scapular motion. Finally, the end of the article analyses historical analogy and suggest future research and clinical directions.

The authors aim is to lead readers to the essential concepts implied on scapular stabilization, increase the critical thought process in rehabilitation practice, and suggest some open topics to be explored by future research.