Do you know what and where the Serratus anterior is?

Firstly, the purpose of strengthening Serratus anterior is to help the scapular (shoulder blade) sit more downward & facing up as this will help your shoulder joint move back into the right position and not cause any pinching. This muscle is classified as a Phasic muscle. Vladimir Janda was the first to come up with these terms and he describes in great detail about this in his book “Assessment & Treatment of Muscle Imbalance”. In simple terms tonic muscles are prone to tightness or shortness, and the phasic system muscles are prone to weakness or inhibition. The Phasic muscles are commonly recognized as the muscles that are mainly responsible for movement, where as the Tonic muscles are mainly responsible for stability, posture and stabilization. When there is a muscle imbalance or faulty movement at work the tonic muscles take over and the phasic muscles basically shut down. In this case Serratus Anterior is being “inhibited” by Levator Scapula and Upper Traps to do movements, often leading to neck strain and shoulder pain.

When the serratus anterior becomes lazy and weak, this is a disaster to the shoulder for it’s function is to keep the scapular in the right position through static posture and movement! It also leads to development of poor posture which leads to other injuries. This is known as upper cross syndrome.




If we then move further up from the shoulder, the shoulder coming back and the scapular being upright will then help the neck becoming less hunched forward. Once they’re sitting in a better posture, this will reduce pain.

Now if we look further into other components around serratus anterior, it has other helping muscles that assist in getting the scapular sitting more upright, they are upper trapezius and lower trapezius. By also strengthening these muscles, it will help get you into a better posture, therefore, fixing the problem of pain in the first place.

But……. Before we can do that, we must look at are the muscles that may be inhibiting serratus anterior from working properly! These inhibitor muscles are the levator scapulae, rhomboids and pec minor, when these muscles are tight and rigid, it will cause the scapular to sit rotating forward, therefore, causing the shoulder to roll over, and again, the neck to be hunched forward. This is where the flexibility and mobility drills comes into play, if we stretch these tight muscles, especially levator scapulae and pec minor, this will enhance serratus anterior’s function.


Come take a Pilates class at MPS or Central Core to gain more insight on how to work optimally across all muscles!

Hope to see you in the studio soon!

MPS and Central Core


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