The Rhomboid Muscle

April 8, 2015     muscle | shoulders | Anatomy | Upper Limb

Rhomboids – Movers of the Scapula

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 generalize postural problems. These muscles may be where you feel pain, but it doesn’t mean that this is the source of that pain.

What does the name of the rhomboid muscle mean?

The 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 and are located between the scapula and the spine. These muscles 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?


  • Rhomboids major – attaches on the spinous processes of vertebrae T2-T5
  • Rhomboids minor – attaches on the spinous processes of vertebrae C7 and T1


  • 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
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The Rhomboids Muscle Attachments

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 this muscle contracts:

In the variation of shalabasana below, rhomboids contract and the shoulder blades are retracting toward the spine.

rhomboid muscle in shalabasana

Postures where this muscle lengthen:

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

rhomboid muscle in vatayanasana

Trigger points


The Rhomboids Muscle Trigger Points