What is Scapular Retraction?

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Scapular retraction involves pulling the shoulder blades straight back and together which improves posture and shoulder stability.


  • Retracting the scapula into a “packed” position provides a stable base for pressing and lifting using the shoulders and arms.
  • Poor scapular mechanics leads to rounded shoulders and injury risk. Consciously retracting the scapula trains proper positioning.
  • Exercises like rows, band pull aparts, and wall slides target retraction. Also retract during overhead presses.
  • Aim for shoulders down and back with chest lifted. Squeeze the scapula together without shrugging shoulders up.


  • Setting up for a barbell bench press by retracting the scapula first.
  • Using a resistance band to pull the shoulder blades together.

Related Terms

  • Shoulder posture, shoulder impingement, protraction

Common Questions

  • Why does scapular position matter? Proper positioning provides shoulder joint stability, limiting overuse issues.
  • When should I retract my scapula? Make it a habit before any upper body press, pull or loaded overhead arm motion.

Do Not Confuse With

  • Shoulder shrugs – Elevate shoulders up, don’t improve scapular function.
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