Increase Scapula Strength and Build a Strong Shoulder

Prone Y’s on Foam Roller

Strong lower traps are important for building healthy strong shoulders, enhancing core strength, and prevent scapula pain. Most of my patients that come in with a tight lower back, midback and upper neck pain have weak lower traps. One of the best ways to strengthen this muscle is a facedown exercise called Ys. Doing this exercise in child’s pose with your forehead on a foam roller takes out the paraspinal muscles and prevents you from cheating with your lower back.


  • Sit back on your heels in child’s pose with your forehead on the roller
  • Place the arm you will be lifting out at a “Y” angle
  • Place the non-active arm in position stabilize your trunk by your shoulder
  • To lift think Reach – Turn – Lift
  • Reach out lengthening your arm
  • Turn your thumb up toward the ceiling
  • Lift your arm from your scapula
  • Try to relax your upper traps
  • You should feel your scapula glide down your backTop10-13
  • Don’t try and lift too high, just lifting a little can build strength without kicking in a bunch of cheaters.


As it gets easier you can maximize your time by doing both shoulders at once.


  • Keep your chin tucked and your spine long, you are using the muscles in the front of your neck to help stabilize.
  • Open your chest toward the floor.
  • If you have limited range in your knees, try bending over a table and using a towel roll or the roller there.
  • If you have limited shoulder range, shift the roller to the side so your arm hangs off one side.
  • Work up to 3 x 10 and when that is easy grab some 1lb weights!



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