The biggest question when working out in general AND A MAJORRR question on the microformer. Why? Because your shoulders are the main stabilizing mechanism for your upper body. If you don’t learn how to utilize them correctly…well things get F*CKED UP FAST + you put yourself at risk for a shoulder injury. Wondering WTF to do with your shoulders on the microformer? YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE. 


Okay, basic anatomy. Your shoulder blade is called your scapula, and it lives inside of your “SHOULDER POCKET” in your back. It is connected to your humerus (upper arm bone) and sits on top of your upper ribs through the back of your body. Your shoulder blade is held in place in its “POCKET” by tons of both small and large muscles through your mid-back and shoulder complex. 

Your shoulder blade is meant to move + functions BEST when you learn how to move + control it in multiple directions! Let’s practice together! Stand up in front of a mirror in your sports bra…OR SHIRTLESS and LFG: 

  1. ELEVATION: AKA lifting your shoulder blade UP your back. Stand in front of a mirror with your arms straight above your head. Make your arms are super straight + erect. NOW, lift your finger tips straight up to the ceiling AS HIGH AS YOU CAN. You will feel your shoulder blades shrug up to your ear + LIFT OUT OF THEIR POCKETS. Have you always been wondering what we mean when we say “SHOULDER OUT OF THE POCKET”? Yeah, this is it! You will feel your shoulder out of its pocket in this elevated position at the top of a forearm plank to pike OR when you punch your weights to the ceiling in a thruster. 
  1. DEPRESSION: AKA pulling your shoulder blades DOWN your back. Stay in front of the mirror. From the position of “elevating” your shoulder blades + shrugging your shoulders up, NOW WE’RE GOING TO DO THE OPPOSITE. From your “elevation” keep your arms straight overhead, but instead PULL your shoulder blades DOWN your back. When you do this, instead of feeling the muscle between your neck + shoulder (AKA UPPER TRAPS) in the “elevation”, you will feel the muscles underneath your shoulder blades in the middle of your back PULL YOUR BLADES DOWN. WTF do we mean when we say shoulder IN their pockets? THIS. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE MEAN. On the microformer, this is the place that we tell you to keep your shoulder blades most often! Planks, back work, leg work in all fours. You name it. We want your shoulder blades in their pockets when you’re doing it!
  1. PROTRACTION: AKA pulling your shoulder blades FORWARD + APART. Okay, it’s time to change our setup. Stand in front of a wall facing it + put your palms and forearms directly on the wall. Keep your legs straight + back flat like you are doing a forearm plank. NOW, press your palms hard into the wall, like you’re trying to push yourself away from it, + pull your shoulder blades forward. THIS IS CALLED PROTRACTION and is when your shoulder blades pull apart from each other across your back. When we say “lift your collarbone up” in a plank, this is exactly what we’re talking about. We like protraction of your shoulders in planks. When you protract, this sick muscle under your armpits, called your SERRATUS ANTERIOR will turn on which will make your plank feel SO MUCH STRONGER. 
  1. RETRACTION: AKA pulling your shoulder blades BACK + TOGETHER. Keep your setup from the “protraction” with your forearms and hands on the wall + now we do the opposite. Keep your palms + forearms pressed firmly on the wall, pull your shoulder blades BACK + TOGETHER. It’s like they’re trying to kiss in the center of your upper back. Your chest will sink towards the wall SLIGHTLY. When you hear us say “spread your collarbone” this is what we’re talking about! Your shoulder blades will RETRACT in a TONNN of arm work on your microformer. 

These are your 4 basic shoulder blade positions. PRO TIP: Practice all four BEFORE your workout so you can mind muscle connect to what your shoulder blades are doing. That way, when we cue you during your workout, you will be able to feel + recognize if your shoulder is where we’re telling you it should be! 

DO YOUR SHOULDER BLADES FEEL STUCK? It happens sometimes! It’s time to get some body work done. Seek out a local sports chiropractor + they will help you unstick them! Our favorite is MOMENTUM CHIROPRACTIC in Portland, OR. 

WANT YOUR OWN MICROFORMER? Use code PILATESCLUB to get your discounted Microformer TODAY!

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