The Serratus Anterior has a few different functions:
- It helps anchor the shoulder blade against the rib cage. This anchoring gives the shoulder blade a good foundation for stability and control of the shoulder joint.
- It helps rotate the shoulder blades upwards when lifting the arms overhead.
- It helps with breathing, given its attachments to the rib cage.
Why is the Serratus Anterior Important?
First, the Serratus Anterior provides some necessary support for your shoulder blades to stay in a neutral position with your arms by your side. If your Serratus Anterior muscle is weak and lengthened, it can increase the shoulders’ rounding, and your shoulder blades may sit further away from your spine.
Second, your Serratus Anterior helps to bring your arms overhead. When you lift your arms overhead, most of that movement comes from the shoulder joint, but a portion of the motion comes from the shoulder blade. When the shoulder blade doesn’t rotate enough through overhead movements, it puts more strain on the shoulder joint. This strain can result in excess stress being placed on the AC joint (where your collarbone and shoulder blade connect) and on the tendons of the rotator cuff.
The most common sign of Serratus Anterior dysfunction is winging of the scapula. This winging can come from an issue with the nerve supplying the muscle or a weak or lengthened Serratus Anterior muscle.