The Rhomboid Muscle

The Rhomboid Muscle

David Keil Anatomy, Upper Limb 4 Comments

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Rhomboids - Movers of the Scapula

What does the name of the rhomboid muscle mean?

The Rhomboid MuscleThe rhomboid muscle is named for its shape.

The name comes from the Greek “rhombos”, which refers to the angled parallelogram shape.

The rhomboids are part of the deep layer of muscles on the back. They are sometimes referred to as the Christmas tree muscles due to their shape.

The rhomboids are located between the scapula and the spine. They run deep to the trapezius.

The rhomboids are divided into a major and minor portion which originate and insert in different places.

Where do the rhomboid muscles attach?

Origin
  • Rhomboids major – attaches on the spinous processes of vertebrae T2-T5The Rhomboid Muscles Attachments
  • Rhomboids minor – attaches on the spinous processes of vertebrae C7 and T1
Insertion
  • Rhomboids major – vertebral border (edge closest to the spine) from the root of the spine to the inferior angle (bottom of the scapula)
  • Rhomboids minor – root of the spine of the scapula

What actions do the rhomboid muscles do?

  • retraction of the scapula – scapula moves toward spine
  • downward rotation – top of the scapula tilts down and forward

Postures where the rhomboid muscles contract:

rhomboid muscle in shalabasana

In this variation the shoulder blades are retracting toward the spine.

Postures where the rhomboid muscles lengthen:

rhomboid muscle in vatayanasana

When the arms are in vatayanasana, the shoulder blades are pulled around the front of the body, lengthening the rhomboid muscles.

Trigger points

Trigger Points in the Rhomboids Muscle

Learn All of Your Muscles

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Comments 4

  1. David, from your last few posts would it be accurate to observe that some past & current issues with subscapularis may be because of overcompensating for weak rhomboids (on and off the mat)? You identified and showed me how to work through a frozen shoulder several years ago by targeting what look like the rhomboid trigger points illustrated above. Does “rounding out” the shoulder area in, for example, downward dog (by keeping the front ribs in) strengthen the rhomboids? What are some other safe ways to strengthen this area in working toward asanas like pincha mayurasana? And then how does this all relate to the “T5” area that seems to “ache” when putting the crown of the head on the mat during headstand (something new). Many thanks for all your great info!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Karen,

      First, the relationship between rhomboids and subscapularis is minimal. Rhomboids moves the scapula while subscap moves the humerus. More relationship between rhomboids and serratus anterior as rhomboids retracts the scapula and serratus protracts it. You seem to be alluding to serratus however in your suggestion of “rounding out” the shoulders in down dog. You would certainly want a strong serratus in pincha mayurasana as well as headstand… I discuss this pretty fully in Functional Anatomy Of yoga.

      Having said that, I may have done some work with you on your subscapularis if you had a frozen shoulder. I can’t remember.

      As for headstand, try keeping the weight out of your head or change head positions to see if it alleviates the T5 issue.

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