Serratus anterior muscle – the boxer’s muscle!
The serratus anterior muscle is critical for shoulder stability. Its overall health is critical to shoulder health for yoga practitioners as it directly relates to postures that take our body weight into our hands and the ability of our rotator cuff muscles to function properly.
What does serratus anterior mean?
The serratus anterior muscle was named for 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, serratus is known 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.
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
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 (below) this muscle upwardly rotates the scapula in order to get our arms over our head.
In bakasana (below) the serratus anterior muscle contracts to keep the chest from sinking through the shoulder blades.
Postures where this muscle lengthens
In dhanurasana (below) the serratus anterior muscle is lengthened while the scapulae retract (get pulled back and together).
dealing with a locking behind my knee with external positions/rotation of my right hip. Been told I have IT band friction syndrome… can you assist with yoga poses to counter this…
Thanks David! I was very interested in your trigger point images, assuming that the upper left image depicts infraspinatus? Since I started on the second series with more arm balances and back bends and trying to get more lift in handstand, I noticed a trigger point in infraspinatus. Any suggestions how to deal with that? Thanks, Evelyn
What is a winged scapula and how can the dysfunction ? be accommodated ? I have a personal question , i seem to have developed arms that are difficult to straighten, meaning I need a strap to do handstands without my arms collapsing out , I kind of gather some muscles need to lengthen and some I need to learn to activate and contract , to do the more advanced asanas without a supporting elbow strap.
this explains a lot to me ree handstands
What do you recommend to someone with a winged scapula? I’ve been living with this pain for so long & only just recently been told it’s because I have a winged scapula.
Fantastic. Your article is very clear as usual.