The Serratus Anterior Muscle

February 11, 2015
The Serratus Anterior Muscle

Serratus anterior muscle – the boxer’s muscle!

The serratus anterior muscle is critical for shoulder stability. Additionally, its overall health is critical to shoulder health for yoga practitioners. This is because it relates directly to how we do weight-bearing postures that use our hands and arms as our base and whether our rotator cuff muscles function properly.

What does serratus anterior mean?

The name of the serratus anterior muscle refers to its finger-like muscular origins that look serrated. “Serratus” comes from the Latin serrare meaning “to saw.” The other part of this muscle’s name, anterior, refers to the muscle’s location on the front or anterior side of the body.

Interestingly, many people refer to serratus as the boxer’s muscle because it is the strongest protractor of the scapula. That means it sends the scapula forward around the rib cage. This anatomical movement is primarily what allows for the whole movement seen in a punch.

Where does the serratus anterior muscle attach?


  • The upper 8 or 9 ribs


  • The medial border or edge of the scapula
  • There is also a convergence of fibers on the inferior (bottom) angle of the scapula.

Serratus Anterior Attachments

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What actions does the serratus anterior muscle do?

  • Protraction of the scapula – That means it brings the scapula forward on the rib cage.
  • Upward rotation of the scapula – It is used after the humerus abducts to ninety degrees.
  • Stabilizes the scapula and prevents the inner edge from “winging”.

Postures where this muscle contracts

I often find that students don’t use serratus enough. For that reason, I’ve written about it in a number of articles already, relating to Downward Dog, Headstands, Chaturanga, and Handstands. I’ve also written more about how we use this muscle in yoga postures, especially in arm balances, in my book Functional Anatomy of Yoga. Having said that, this muscle is a key stabilizer of the scapula and that is how it should be used in many yoga postures.


In utkatasana, this muscle upwardly rotates the scapula in order to get our arms over our head.


In bakasana the serratus anterior muscle contracts to keep the chest from sinking through the shoulder blades.

Postures where this muscle lengthens


In dhanurasana, the serratus anterior muscle lengthens while the scapulae retract (pull back and together).

Trigger points