Parents Upper Back / Shoulder Flexibility - Related to winged scapula?

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My six year old is having some upper body flexibility issues. I have read through all the old threads on here, and have talked to her coach for stretches to help. What is odd is that she has good lower body flexibility...I have heard that usually if a person is tight, they are tight everywhere. We do bridges against the wall daily, in addition to many different stretches on the shoulders. Anyways, I have noticed in the past month how much her shoulder blades stick out (winged scapula). I never would have though it would inhibit her flexibility but am now wondering if this had anything to do with it? And if anyone has any input or experience with this?
Hmm, where are her shoulders in regards to her hands during a bridge? Directly on top/vertical? Are they past her hands or not quite there?

The winged out shoulder blades is a posture thing. I don't think many 6yo would be mindful about their posture day to day.

Check out the "Posture Lady", Kris Merlo Robinson. She commonly presents at a lot of Gymnastics Congresses.

No, a person isn't necessarily tight everywhere. Some are tight in the hips or shoulders. Some have a lot of lower back flexibility. Some will good shoulder flexion but poor shoulder extension or vice versa. Shoulder flexion is raising arms up to ceiling opening the shoulder, shoulder extension is raising the arms behind the body.

Shoulder flexion example: Open shoulders in handstand.

Shoulder extension example: German hang at the bottom of a skin the cat, Manna.

As well, it seems shoulder sockets come in a variety of 3 base types according to Eric Cressey, who deals a lot with basbeball pitchers. Some are optimal for overhead movement, some are alright, and some just ain't ever gonna get it.
photo.jpg Here is a photo, this is after stretching 3x a day all of July until now. She can do a German hang, though not for long, I can check her shoulders in a handstand and take a picture too.
This looks like my DD's bridge. She is also tight in the shoulders and most other places. It is not true that people are tight everywhere, my DD has good middle splits!

We have been seeing a St. John neuromuscular therapist who has some interesting techniques for flexibility other than stretching the muscle involved directly. Also Lisa Howell of the Ballet Blog is a physiotherapist working with dancers who has some similar interesting flexibility techniques. Flexibility can be limited by nerves, fascia, tightness in other muscles and other factors.

We have found massage helps a lot with my DD's flexibility. You could try asking your DD where she is feeling the restriction in the bridge. Sometimes in a bridge there is actually tightness in the tummy area (abdominal muscles). Stretching the pecs can help, also massaging the pecs and upper arms in certain ways.

Someone here also mentioned that to bridge properly requires strength in the shoulder blade muscles. There is a simple exercise for that involving lying on your front and lifting arms up as high as you can (we do this one holding a broomstick). See this web page: Handstands: Part 2 | Apex Technical Corner
Thanks for your input. I'm starting to think we need to see a doctor. We have worked on the stretches recommended on the Apex, and she can now get her arms straight, which is great. She just moved up to preteam and I would like to know if she will ever have good flexibility...Have you noticed significant improvement in your dd's flexibility after she has been seeing the therapist? I worry how much this will hinder her in advancing.
See a sports doctor if any.

Honestly, she is 6. It takes time.

Have her work her bridge with feet elevated to load the shoulders more. That's what needs to be stretched.

Loosening up the pecs will generally help with overhead flexibility.

Work stick/band/rope/belt pass throughs, wall slides, and perhaps shoulder external/internal rotation. Look up something called "Cuban presses". With a 6yo, I would have them do them unweighted and call them "scarecrows". If they tested for poor external/internal rotation perhaps holding a small weight like a ball or a 1 or 2lb weight plate. Think tiny pink DB. Honestly, I doubt it is very necessary to use that exercise and you can get by with the elevated bridges, pass throughs, and wall slides.
Have you noticed significant improvement in your dd's flexibility after she has been seeing the therapist? I worry how much this will hinder her in advancing.

Yes, we have had good results with the therapist, but it is something that we need to keep working at. I have the same worries about my DD. It took her a long time to get her bridge kickover. She can now do walkovers, but found them difficult to learn and she can't practice too many at a time or she starts to get a sore back. It is an ongoing issue, but at least this is helping. Bridges with feet raised are also good as it takes the strain off the lower back and you can really press into the shoulders.
Thanks BlairBob for your input. She did some cuban presses last night and liked them. Wall slides are good too, we do them a couple times a week. I actually set up an appointment with a pediatric orthopedist for next week, I think that is the right type of doctor to see.
She actually does has quite poor posture, which I never noticed before...but has been working on it, I have to remind her of it but hopefully the right muscles will start developing.
Nicki- that is good to hear it is working for your daughter. My daughter can do bridge kickovers but is still working on her back walkover. It just isn't as pretty as the other little girls.
Also, I wanted to tell you I watched a seminar on neural mobility by Lisa Howell and I was able to get my older daughter to slide down about 3 inches on her side splits simply by massage. AMAZING!!!!! Thanks for that!
Well stretching the splits is basically about learning to relax through the pain. Your body wants to tense up and resist the force being put on it by the splits. Thus pain and why you get tears. I, personally think some kids just have a higher pain tolerance which helps a bit. But when they are young and new to this, it's a bit untrained as well.

This is why you are always told to focus on breathing to calm down and relax while stretching.
It is not just about muscle tension but about releasing the fascia surrounding the muscles that can restrict movement. The restriction can also be in a different area of the body, particularly with restriction of the nerves. Another interesting technique Lisa Howell uses is the massage of the neck and scalp, particularly the sub-occipital area. There is a video of this on youtube. My DD got a couple of inches further forward in her pike when I did this massage. But about the breathing and relaxation, Lisa Howell also talks about using the mind to go into the muscles and mentally release them. DD is often able to do this 'mind release' on her hamstring stretch and get her leg much higher!
Don't know if you have to play the doctor card just yet, as it sounds like you've only tried one or two exercises out of many. The best advice I can give you is to start her on a regular flexibility program that places priority on the muscles that restrict mobility rather that repeating the desired motion hoping for results.

Here's a brief decription of muscles and exercises for them, all of which should be done pain free with low resistance and high repitition........

Chest muscles and bicepts......Using a 4 to 5 foot length of broom stick, place both hands near opposite ends of the stick with the fingers in an "over grip". Starting with the stick in front and at the hips, slowly raise the stick with extended arms and shoulders (shrugged in the direction of the stick) up in a cicular motion that takes the stick over head and behind her until the stick is down at hip height.....reverse the motion using the same extended arm and shoulder positioning until the stick comes to rest in front at the hips. This should be done with a fluid motion absent any sudden hitches or jerks, and both sides need to rotate at the same pace.

Do this front-to-back-to-front cycle 20 to 30 times starting with the hands placed very far apart, and moving slightly closer together until it feels like she's getting a stretch. Continue with at least ten more cycles with the hands in this position, moving hands closer only when the stretch feeling subsides. Stop the exercise immediately if there is any pain, and try again the next session.

Triceps........Standing french curls with a single dumbell. Look for a reference exercise on you tube, and modify it to place the elbows as far back alongside/behind her ears as possible. Maintain the elbow position through-out the exercise. Use a weight light enough to allow at least ten pain free repetitions that tire, but don't exhaust her tricepts.

Tricepts.......Same exercise as above but with one hand and less weight. Change the direction of the arm swing from the front to back used in the first exercise, to an overhead to a crossing behind the head motion that places the weight just behind the opposite shoulder before returning to the stretched overhead position. Same numbers and attitude as tha above exercise.

Lattimus......Modify tricept #2 execise......laying on side with arm extended and weight positioned straight above her shoulder. Slowly lower the weight with a straight arm that reaches behind her head as far beyong thew opposite shoulder as possible. In that position perform a "french curl" motion, and when the arm returns to the extended position move the arm up through the same arc to end with the weight at the original start position.

Intercoastal muscles.....Feet elevated bridges with a slow rocking motion that moves her shoulders from forward of her hands to behind her hands. This should concentrate most of the stretching sensation into her rib cage. Use 20 to 30 cycles over the span of 60 to 90 seconds.

This series of exercises should do alot for her shoulder flexibilty and strength. The series should be done no less than two times every other day.
Thanks for all your input! We actually rotate about 2 dozen stretches, I just haven't listed them all :) But the more the better, it keeps her from getting bored, so I like a lot of these! We have been doing to overhead stretch with broomstick, the french curls look interesting as do the crossing over ones. We do similar but this would be good to get into rotation. We have a similar one to the lattimus except she lays on a pool noodle running down the length of her spine (it's a good thoracic spine stretch) and does the lifts overhead to the floor with straight arms. But I think the crossing over will be a big help.
We haven't been doing any rocking in bridges, but I think that sounds great. She would definitely have to work up to holding it that long though, as she can only hold a bridge for 20 seconds or so!!!
Thanks again, I really appreciate your taking the time to help!!! It means a lot!
Took my dd to a pediatric orthopedist today...i'm glad I followed my instinct. After several x-rays and a physical examination, she officially has pronated scapulas, and one of them is higher than the other! So it's off to physical therapy for us it seems. Luckily there is a p.t. close to us run by a former gymnast - unluckily that's not the one our insurance covers! She has an evaluation next week - hopefully through muscle massage and strengthening they can be corrected. Only time will tell how much things will improve. I hope a lot because she is very strong and flexible everywhere else :( and she loves gymnastics so very much.

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