The serratus anterior is an extremely important muscle that helps control normal shoulder and scapular function by protracting and upwardly rotating the scapula. In addition, the serratus assists in stabilizing the scapula against the rib cage, preventing scapular winging. These are all critical functions of the serratus that help prevent shoulder impingement.
Because the serratus is so important in functional arm movements, exercises to strengthen and enhance neuromuscular control of the serratus should be incorporate into many training and rehabilitation programs, especially in those with shoulder dysfunction.
While traditional protraction exercises have been effective in strengthening the serratus, recent research has identified that serratus activity is increased when combining both protraction and upward rotation of the scapula ( Ekstrom et al JOSPT 2003 ). This movement helps train the serratus in a functional pattern that combines the muscle’s several important roles in scapular mobility.
Based on this research, I began using a dynamic jab exercise as baseline exercises for basic training and rehabilitation of the serratus ( Reinold et al JOSPT 2009 ). I discussed this and other techniques in training the serratus in my webinar that you receive free for signing up for my newsletter, so check that out if you haven’t already.
However, this exercise is quickly mastered and further challenge is often required. Incorporating a closed kinetic chain position and unstable surface training will require a greater degree of dynamic stability of the scapula and promote neuromuscular control. Thus, I began incorporating the TRX Suspension Trainer to further advance the exercise.
The TRX Suspension Trainer is an excellent method of performing the Serratus Slide movement that challenges both the strength and stabilizing functions of the serratus muscle. Furthermore, the amount of challenge can quickly be adjusted by modifying the angle of the exercise.
This picture doesn’t do the exercise justice, it is really all about the movement. TRX recently featured this exercise on their website with a video demonstration, so check it out at the below link:
I really have found a bunch of great uses for the TRX Suspension Trainer, and this is just one example. I am going to keep sharing some of the exercises that I incorporate the TRX straps.
Also, I just recently got my hands on the new TRX Rip Trainer, this thing is pretty cool, I have started to use this a lot in my programs, specifically for some of the exercises in my Functional Stability Training system, they work great for enhancing core stability.