Why Do My Shoulder Blades Stick Out In Headstand?

May 7, 2024

Transcript of: Why do my shoulder blades stick out in headstand?

Hey everyone! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. As you know, every month I’m going to answer your questions. All you need to do is go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and I’ll answer them for you. Okay? Now, we got two submissions, one from Teresa and one from Nina, and they’re very similar questions. They’re both questions about why their shoulder blades stick out in headstand. At first, I thought I was getting spammed on the form, but I don’t think so. It’s one of my favorite subjects and one of my favorite muscles to talk about, so why not? So the first question is from Teresa.

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The Questions:

Hi David, I recently got my first headstand and [am] working on improvements but I have one problem. I took photos of myself in headstand I noticed my shoulder blades are really sticking out like they are retracted too much. I am not sure if it’s a real problem, I am trying to push into my forearms, not my head, and engaging my serratus anterior as well in headstand but it just looks so bad so I am not sure if this is proper alignment. [Regularly], I do a lot of strength work for my arms, core, and back so lack of strength shouldn’t be a problem, I think. Thanks for your advice, Teresa.

Hi, I started to practice headstands recently. When I took photos in headstand I noticed that my shoulder blades were sticking out a lot. [DK: A lot of people taking photos of their headstand out there. And, no judgment, it’s a good way to spot little things like this that they both point out. And it might help you too. There’s nothing wrong with taking photos or a video of yourself to try to understand what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Anyway… And, two people with their shoulder blades sticking out! It must be a new trend.] I am trying to engage my core as much as I can, to push into my arms, not my head, but it just looks terrible with those shoulder blades. Is something wrong with that? Thanks for your answer.

The Answer:

Let’s start with that last bit first. Both of them ended with, “Is this really a problem?” Depending on how much your shoulder blades are sticking out it may or may not be a problem. It’s not necessarily a problem. If you don’t have all the weight on your head, it might not be that big of a problem. But it is telling you something. That’s for sure. And almost always—Teresa alluded to this—when you see shoulder blades sticking out in headstand—you know you’re almost always going to see the edge of your inner shoulder blade. The question is whether it’s sticking out quite a bit.

Engaging serratus anterior

If it’s sticking out quite a bit, it means that serratus anterior is probably not engaged as much as it could be. It doesn’t mean that it’s not engaged at all. Okay? So typically, shoulder blades sticking out in headstand means serratus anterior. I see it in high plank and chaturanga. I’ve talked about it loads of times. There are plenty of articles on the website. Just go to the articles page. Type in serratus, hit search, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Focus on the setup

There is probably something going on. It could be when you set up, at that moment of set up, you’re not doing enough of pulling the elbows around the front. You might just kind of be lazily—I’ll say it that way—not that you’re being lazy, but there’s not quite enough of that action, pulling the elbow back when you set that forearm up. Okay? So try engaging it more from the beginning and see if you can figure out how to get those shoulder blades down in headstand.

Consider whether it is a problem

The other thing to consider is—especially if you do that first—is it might not be a problem. You might be engaging serratus enough. Again, if the weight is not on your head completely, then that’s a good thing. So, you might be fine. There might not be anything to fix here. Okay? It’s a very common question.

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Okay, I hope that helped both of you at the same time. If you’ve got a question that you want me to answer, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion.