The Rhomboid Muscle

April 8, 2015
The Rhomboid Muscle

Rhomboids – movers of the scapula

Among muscles, the rhomboids are very popular. Unfortunately, these muscles are often popular for the wrong reasons. They are often associated with upper back pain, particularly from sitting for prolonged periods as well as generalized postural problems. While these muscles may be where you feel pain, it doesn’t mean that they are the source of that pain.

What does the name of the rhomboid muscle mean?

Anatomists named the rhomboid muscle for its shape. Specifically, the name comes from the Greek “rhombos,” which describes the angled parallelogram shape.

The rhomboids are part of the deep layer of muscles on the back and are located between the scapula and the spine. These muscles run deep to the trapezius, which means you’ll find them underneath the trapezius. Interestingly, they are sometimes referred to as the Christmas tree muscles due to their shape. Based on their location, the rhomboids are divided into a major and a minor portion which originate and insert in different places.


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Where do the rhomboid muscles attach?

Origin

  • The origin of rhomboids major is on the spinous processes of vertebrae T2-T5.
  • Rhomboids minor, however, attaches on the spinous processes of vertebrae C7 and T1.

Insertion

  • Rhomboids major inserts on the vertebral border (edge closest to the spine) from the root of the spine to the inferior angle (bottom of the scapula).
  • Rhomboids minor, however, inserts on the root of the spine of the scapula.
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The Rhomboids Muscle Attachments

What actions do the rhomboid muscles do?

  • These muscles retract the scapula, which means the scapula moves toward the spine.
  • Additionally, they also downwardly rotate the scapula, which means the top of the scapula tilts down and forward.

Postures where this muscle contracts

rhomboid muscle in shalabasana

In the variation of shalabasana below, notice that the rhomboids contract, and the shoulder blades retract toward the spine.

Postures where this muscle lengthens

rhomboid muscle in vatayanasana

In order to place our arms in vatayanasana, we pull the shoulder blades around to the front of the body (protraction). That lengthens our rhomboid muscles.

Trigger points

 

The Rhomboids Muscle Trigger Points