Sue Falsone: Scapula, Shoulder and Cervical Thoracic Junction Drill

Your clients likely carry tension in their shoulders, where it’s hard to manually relax them without activating something else. Try this simple drill from Sue Falsone to get them to learn to relax themselves.

As we talked about, a lot of people carry tension in the shoulders and upper back. It’s really difficult to simply do massage, trigger point work or all of those things to relax an area without activating an opposite area.

If we’re really trying to relax that upper trapezius and take the tension out of the levator, we want to activate our scapular depressors. Those are the opposite of the scapular elevators that are creating so much tension and pain within our clients’ bodies.

One simple, easy thing you can do . . .

I’m going to have the ladies go ahead and make a fist. They will stand right next to the table, and all they’re going to do is punch right down into the table . . . and rest.

We will see a little bit of depression at the shoulder blade.

And back up.

What we don’t want to see is what’s happening with Lindsay here—this table is not the perfect height for her. So relax. As she depresses her shoulder blade and punches into the table, she’s side bending to reach the table.

That’s really not what we’re going for.

We want to bring the table up to her, so I’m just going to take a few towels, put them underneath her and have her punch into those towels. Now, we’re activating her scapular depressors without getting her to side bend.

The other thing we want to be careful of during the scapular depression exercise is the athlete-client-patient coming forward.

As they go ahead and depress, they tend to roll forward and come back. Depress and they come forward and try to side bend and come back.

What we really want to do is extend.

I’m going to give you just a tad bit of height here, Krysten. Have a nice, good posture—chest out. The head is in natural extension of the spine.

We’re really trying to go down and back versus down and forward. It’s a really simple exercise you can teach to any level client you’re dealing with to really activate the scapular depressors and reciprocally inhibit the scapular elevators.

Sue Falsone The Cervical Thoracic Junction video


The cervical thoracic junction is an easily overlooked area that can cause significant problems in the surrounding areas, including shoulder tension and neck pain. Sue Falsone takes her experience working with high caliber athletes and demonstrates practical exercises and strategies you can use to alleviate problems in this area of the body.

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Bridging the Gap from Rehab to Performance


In Bridging the Gap from Rehab to Performance, physical therapist Sue Falsone walks the reader through the thought process and physical practice of guiding an injured athlete from injury through rehab and back to the field of play. To both health care professionals and strength and conditioning experts alike, she describes the path as her athletes move through pain and healing toward optimal function and advanced performance.

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Sue Falsone The Shoulder Video


Former LA Dodgers physical therapist and head athletic trainer Sue Falsone reveals the four common shoulder compensations found in overhead athletes, and demonstrates practical drills you can use to correct them. You’ll also learn how to identify possible issues in the shoulder so you can stop shoulder injuries before they happen.

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