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Serratus Anterior: Your Unsung Hero for Sports Performance & Pain-Free Shoulders

 shoulder anatomy illustrations 1 3If you’re an athlete or simply someone who enjoys an active lifestyle, neck and shoulder pain can be a major roadblock. While injuries like rotator cuff tears get a lot of attention, the root cause of your discomfort might stem from a lesser-known muscle: the serratus anterior.

Understanding the Serratus Anterior

local muscle anatomyThe Serratus Anterior wraps around your ribcage, attaching behind your shoulder blade. Its primary role is to stabilize the shoulder blade against your body, providing a solid foundation for powerful, controlled arm movements. It works in harmony with other key muscles, like the Trapezius, to achieve smooth overhead motions.

It connects via the fascia to the Rhomboid. The Serratus Anterior, Rohmboid line of muscular pull even connects up to the back of the neck and base of the skull via the Splenius Capitus.

How the Serratus Anterior Impacts Your Performance

  • Powerhouse for Multidirectional Movement: Whether you’re throwing a fastball, swimming freestyle, or delivering a tennis serve, the serratus anterior is essential for generating power and precision.
  • Stabilizer for Injury Prevention: A strong serratus anterior helps maintain proper shoulder alignment. This reduces stress on vulnerable structures like your rotator cuff, minimizing the risk of painful conditions like impingement(1).
  • The “Boxer’s Muscle” for a Reason: In boxing, the serratus anterior allows for maximum reach while also protecting the shoulder during impact(2).

Signs Your Serratus Anterior Needs Attention

  • Winging Shoulder Blade: Does one or both of your shoulder blades stick out more prominently, especially when sitting or pushing against resistance?

  • Pain with Overhead Reach: Discomfort when reaching for high shelves, lifting weights overhead, or performing similar movements.

  • Weakness or Instability: Struggle during exercises like push-ups or bench press.

  • Clicking or Popping: Unusual sensations in your shoulder joint during movement.

  • Beyond Just the Serratus: Shoulder problems often involve dyskinesis – subtle disruptions in the natural rhythm of your shoulder blade’s movement during activities.

Raleigh's Trusted Partner in Sports Rehab & Optimal Shoulder Health

Traditional physical therapy often focuses on fixing individual parts, but this approach can fall short. At Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center, we start by listening to your concerns and understanding your injury history to identify potential weaknesses throughout your body.

We then perform simple tests to pinpoint how your nervous system has adapted to past injuries and stresses. This information guides us towards more detailed assessments if needed. You walking away with a clear understanding of the cause of your injury, along with the steps needed for recovery, is key to your success.

Simply treating the obvious problem often leads to temporary relief, or none at all. My goal is to work with you to build lasting resilience, so you won’t need to keep returning with the same issue.

To help you rediscover your peak performance, I’ll use acupuncture, dry needling and manual therapy to lower or eliminate your pain. Then, I’ll guide you through your rehab exercises tailored to your stage of rehabilitation and outline the rest of the healing process.

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"Radiopaedia - Drawing Levator scapulae and rhomboid muscles - English labels" by Matt Skalski, license: CC BY-NC-ND
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"OpenStax AnatPhys fig.11.14 - Posterior and Side Views of the Neck - English labels" by OpenStax, license: CC BY. Source: book 'Anatomy and Physiology',