When it comes to muscle strengthening exercises, we tend to focus on our core strength and legs and forget about the muscles that make up the rest of our body. One such muscle is the serratus anterior, located in the upper body, which is responsible for performing various important functions. It is important to learn the exercises to strengthen serratus anterior to keep yourself fit to perform various tasks involving the upper body.
Serratus anterior muscle is often ignored but the fact is that maintaining its strength is essential for many hand and chest activities. Also referred to as the ‘big swing muscle’ or ‘boxer’s muscle’, the serratus anterior is a muscle that originates from the underside of the shoulder blade, on the top surface of the first to eighth ribs, at the side of the chest. It extends along the entire front length of the border of the scapula. The serratus anterior is largely hidden from view underneath the shoulder blade, therefore most people tend to forget this vital muscle.
Function of Serratus Anterior and Importance of Strengthening it
The serratus anterior is the most important muscle that facilitates an upward rotation of the shoulder blade. It helps the shoulder blade to rotate upwards, so that you can reach any higher than shoulder level – hence, perform any ordinary day to day activity. Strengthening serratus anterior muscle with exercises is necessary to maintain this function and be able to perform daily activities without any difficulty.
The serratus anterior also anchors the shoulder blade to the thorax, with the help of the arm. Thus serratus anterior muscle plays an important role in lifting of the arm, movement of the scapula and movement of the ribs to assist in respiration. Serratus anterior muscle strengthening is essential to maintain appropriate shoulder and arm movements, lifting objects, performing overhead activities and facilitate proper respiratory movements of the chest.
If your serratus anterior muscles are weak, damaged or injured, the shoulder, arm and chest movements may get affected. It can also cause pain at the top of your shoulder, difficulty in raising arms or lifting weights and unknowingly also affect respiration. Over time, this seemingly small pain can lead to the development of a cuff tear and the movements of shoulders may further deteriorate.
Exercises to strengthen serratus anterior are important for those who wish to remain fit, who are involved in sports and athletics, those who have injuries causing weak serratus anterior or those with joint and muscle conditions.
Exercises to Strengthen Serratus Anterior
Therapeutic exercises to strengthen serratus anterior muscle can help to maintain its strength and protect it from injuries while improving its capacity to perform. People with medical conditions or injuries can seek medical opinion to plan the most appropriate exercises to strengthen serratus anterior.
Some of the exercises to strengthen serratus anterior muscle include the following:
Shoulder Raise Exercise to Strengthen Serratus Anterior:
- Hold a dumbbell at your hip.
- Raise that arm slowly until you reach shoulder height.
- Return the dumbbell to the starting position, and repeat.
The serratus anterior is the main muscle required to perform the raise, hence it is very effective. This exercise is one of the basic exercises to strengthen serratus anterior and can be easily performed by beginners as well.
Wall Press Exercise for Strengthening Serratus Anterior:
- Stand upright facing the wall, at the length of an arm’s distance.
- Stretch your palms up to the shoulder height on the wall.
- Lean forward, start extending your torso towards the wall.
- Do not bend your arms.
- You will feel your shoulder blades coming closing together at your spine.
This exercise not only helps to strengthen the serratus anterior but also stretches the muscle to improve its function.
Incline Push Ups:
- Get into the plank position, with your feet on the floor, and your hands positioned on an immobile platform, like a chair step.
- Bend your elbows, and very slowly, lower your body and then go back up.
- Do not let your upper back sag and maintain tension in the lower back to avoid injuries to the back.
This is an effective exercise to strengthen serratus anterior muscle and can be practiced regularly to experience the benefits.
- Hold dumbbells.
- While bending your knees just slightly, lower your body to a quarter squat position.
- Do a set of boxing punches, while holding the dumbbells tightly.
- Performing boxing punches while slightly twisting the body to the opposite side can be more effective.
In dumbbell punches exercise, a static exertion is placed on the serratus anterior muscle in order to maintain control of the dumbbell, which helps to strengthen serratus anterior.
This exercise works your shoulder muscles, arms, chest and abdomen in addition to strengthening your serratus anterior muscle.
- A training partner is recommended in order to do this exercise.
- Lie on the floor, at right angle to an exercise bench, with your head near the bench.
- While bending your knees, place your feet flat on the floor, and extend your arms vertically above your chest.
- At this point, your partner needs to stand on the bench and drop a medicine ball right down into your outstretched hands.
- Catch the ball with both hands, and allow it to fall to your chest while controlling its fall.
- Push it away from your chest, to your partner and repeat.
Power drop exercise gives a fun element to your workout in addition to strengthening serratus anterior.
- With your feet on the ground, and your legs crossed, sit on the floor.
- Rest your palms on the floor, by your hips.
- Keep your arms straight.
- Try to raise your body away from the floor by using the serratus anterior.
This exercise helps to strengthen serratus anterior and while it may seem difficult in the beginning, once you are able to raise your body, you will surely enjoy it.
With the understanding that it is important to exercise even those muscles which you cannot see, performing these exercises to strengthen serratus anterior can help to improve your day to day function and sports performance.