Shoulder Pain and Serratus Anterior
There is a sudden increase in neck and shoulder pain pertaining to many reasons. The most evident reason to this is our poor ergonomics which leads to muscle imbalances. Tightness or weakness of muscle around the shoulder or neck increases the load on its counterpart or other joints. One such muscle is serratus anterior, its weakness is usually targeted but the tightness factor is often overlooked.
Serratus anterior muscle lies underneath the shoulder blade and comes out on the sides of the rib cage. It is commonly known as punching muscle or boxer’s muscle. Serratus anterior has many functions in keeping a smooth and coordinated movement of the shoulder blade and arm. It helps in rotating the scapula upwards for arm to elevate overhead. It also keeps the shoulder blade pressed against the thorax and helps in bringing it forward around the thorax.
Serratus anterior weakness
Now since we know the movements it does around the shoulder, it is easy to relate what will happen if the muscle is weak. Reduced upward rotation from serratus anterior will increase load on other upward rotators, which is your upper trapezius muscle. Increased load on upper trapezius muscle will cause tightness and ache around the neck. Secondly, its ability to hold shoulder blade pressed against the rib cage also reduces. This affects the ability to pull or push objects and alters shoulder joint mechanics which can lead to problems like shoulder impingement.
Serratus Anterior tightness
Ever noticed when we are working on computers, the hand controlling the mouse is often kept away from the body? This is one of the leading causes of serratus anterior tightness now a day. When our arms are extended forward for prolonged hours it draws the shoulder blade forward, thus making serratus anterior muscle rest in a shortened position. Over time this leads to gradual onset of problems in shoulder joint as the joint mechanics gets altered.