Serratus Anterior – One of the Great Unsung Heroes

Bruce Lee had a great set. Superheroes one’s show through their suits. Serratus Anterior is one of the muscular-skeletal system’s great unsung heroes. A modest muscle, starting at the upper ribs, attaching itself to the border of the shoulder blade closest to the spine. Most of us mere mortals do not have the well-developed sausage-like projections of the super folk, nevertheless this muscle plays an important role in shoulder mobility, strength and stability.

If you’ve ever noticed people who have “wings”, where the shoulder blades stick out like shark fins, that is a result of an imbalance in the back and shoulder muscles and a clear visual example of a dysfunctional serratus anterior. Oftentimes this will be accompanied with hunched posture and rounded shoulders and weak, over-stretched back muscles. Desk workers are prone to these types of imbalances, as are people with poor posture, women who breast feed for extended periods, large breasted women and anyone who takes part in activities that emphasise forwards bending over chest opening – modern life anyone??? Serratus Anterior plays a role in breathing, particularly during exercise. People with respiratory conditions such as asthma are often plagued with serratus anterior dysfunction as they tend to overuse certain groups of muscles over others.

Boxing and weights are examples of activities one can do to strengthen serratus anterior. Press ups target this region too. For people who find press ups difficult there is a version of this exercise you can do against a wall. See for some great explanations of exercises you can do to help serratus anterior. If you have any shoulder issues or injuries please consult a health professional.

So, although not well-known, serratus anterior has an important role to play in terms of the functioning of our shoulder and thoracic region and clearly there are a variety of conditions and activities that affect it. Massage and bodywork are wonderful additions to your exercise regime, enabling good range of motion and joint health.

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