Squeeze Your Shoulder Blades Together?

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Often I hear the cue "squeeze your shoulder blades together" in an attempt to get an athlete set during the pull of a snatch or clean. The lifters back should be set in extension giving a visible arch to the back. But should the shoulder blades be squeezed together?

Ok, try this! Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Now try to bring your hands over head while keeping your shoulder blades together. Can you do it? Probably not. Shoulder mobility requires movement of the scapula. When squeezing the shoulder blades together the scapula effectively becomes pinned down and difficult to move.

During the initial pull off the ground it will likely have little consequence until it's time to transition under the bar. As the lifter begins to pull under the bar, the shoulders will elevate and retract, until after the initial elevation the scapula will depress as the elbows rotate around the bar and laterally rotate with a posterior tilt and elevate as the elbows come around the front (clean) or push the bar upward (Snatch).

A long winded answer, to say no. Instead of focusing on the scapula we will cue an athlete to lift the chest. Try it standing up. Relax the shoulders and lift your chest to the ceiling, Notice how the shoulders sit back and the thoracic extends. Now try and lift your arms over head. You should find that the shoulder moves without the restriction of squeezing the scapulas.

Mychael Swenning