Home Posts tagged "Serratus Anterior"

Why You Can’t Feel Your Serratus Anterior Working

Recently, I received an inquiry from a follower who asked why it's so hard to "feel" serratus anterior targeted exercises. There's a fair amount to unpack in this regard, so I recorded a video on the topic:

I dig in much deeper in my popular resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions. You can learn more at www.SturdyShoulders.com.


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The Best of 2021: Strength and Conditioning Articles

With 2021 winding down, I'm using this last week of the year to direct you to some of the most popular content of the past 12 months at EricCressey.com, as this "series" has been quite popular over the past few years. Today, we start with the most popular articles of the year; these are the pieces that received the most traffic, according to my hosting statistics.

1. An Overlooked Function of Serratus Anterior - If you've followed my work for just about any length of time, you've probably quickly learned that I pay a lot of attention to serratus anterior for its profound impact on upper extremity function. And, this article was no exception.

2. 3 Shoulder-Specific Programming Principles - I ran a sale on my Sturdy Shoulder Solutions resource earlier in the year, and wrote up this piece to elaborate on some principles you'll find in that product.

3. 5 Lessons from a First-Round Draft Pick - In the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft, Cressey Sports Performance had 15 athletes selected – including three of the top 30 picks. Here are some important lessons you can learn from one of them.

4. Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training: Medicine Ball Edition - This feature outlined some key medicine ball programming principles you can employ when designing strength and conditioning plans.

5. Thinking Beyond Diagnostic Imaging - In the past, I've written about the need for both "Medical" and "Movement" diagnoses. In reality, there might be a middle ground that helps to unify the two - and I discuss it in this article.

I'll be back soon with another "Best of 2021" feature. Up next, the top videos of the year!

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An Overlooked Function of Serratus Anterior

Serratus anterior gets:

1. A lot of love as a scapular protractor

2. Some love as a scapular upward rotator

3. Even less love as a posterior tilter of the scapula

4. Just about zero love for its impact on rib internal/external rotation.

Most importantly, you'll see that the upper fibers of the serratus anterior attach on the first rib - the very bone that's removed during thoracic outlet surgery.


Images by Anatomography - en:Anatomography (setting page of this image), CC BY-SA 2.1 jp, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27010000

When the serratus fires, it depresses the first rib and clears space under the clavicle for important nerve and vascular structures to pass.

If you take a second to think about it while looking at the anatomy charts below, you'll appreciate that this attachment effectively makes serratus anterior an antagonist to the scalenes and subclavius, which both elevate the first rib.

This is one reason why a lot of the thoracic outlet syndrome cases you'll encounter aren't your classic kyphotic (hunchback) posture, but actually a lot of flat thoracic spine, heavy scapular downward rotation/depression, and horizontal clavicle presentations.

Getting serratus anterior going favorably impacts scapular upward rotation (which brings the clavicle up), first rib positioning, and the ideal convex-concave relationship between the rib cage and scapula.

Fun fact: serratus anterior also indirectly impacts contralateral thoracic rotation, but that's a post for another day!

If you're looking to learn more about how I assess, coach, and program for the upper extremity, be sure to check out Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

 

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Exercise of the Week: Glute-Ham Raise with Banded Reach

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a big fan of training the posterior chain and also working on getting serratus anterior firing to improve scapular upward rotation. So, you can imagine how excited I am to present to you an exercise of the week video that hits both. Thanks to Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard for the demo: 

I like this exercise as a first or second assistance exercise on a lower body day, or as part of a full body day. I love it when the late offseason rolls around and athletes have built up a solid foundation of strength, and are ready for more advanced arm care progressions. It's a game changer if you have an athlete who is heavily lordotic (arched back) with downwardly rotated/depressed shoulder blades and a flat thoracic spine (upper back). Enjoy!

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Are You Getting Shoulder Motion in the Right Places?

Sturdy Shoulder Solutions is one of my most popular products of all time, and I want to give you a little sampling of what's included. In this TRX serratus anterior exercise video excerpt, I talk about the importance of getting good scapulothoracic (shoulder blade on rib cage) movement so that you don't have to find extra glenohumeral (ball on socket) motion.  Check it out:

This is a key shoulder health principle I cover in great detail in this resource. You can learn more at www.SturdyShoulders.com.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/24/18

I'm a day late with these recommendations in light of a lot of a busy week of evaluations at Cressey Sports Performance as the college crew rolls back in. However, that's given me a few extra days to compile some good reading material for you:

Cressey Sports Performance Featured in Boston Voyager Magazine - This feature on Cressey Sports Performance - MA just ran in Boston Voyager magazine. You'll learn a bit about the history of our business and how we approach things.

One Thing that Annoys Me About the Fitness Industry - Tony Gentilcore makes an outstanding point in this blog. It's one of the few "rants" you'll read that actually has an invaluable message.

EC on the The Farm System Podcast - I was interviewed for this baseball development podcast last just a few weeks ago; give it a listen!

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram of the Post

 

Serratus anterior is important for a myriad of reasons - but most people tend to focus on its impact on scapular stabilization and motion. Don't overlook the impact of the serratus anterior - particularly the upper fibers - on rib positioning, though. The upper fibers can internally rotate (pull down) the first few ribs, which make it an important anagonist to the subclavius and scalenes, which elevate those ribs. In other words, if you're a person who always feels "balled up" in your neck/clavicle region, chances are that you need some good serratus work to help make your manual therapy up there "stick." πŸ€” In my humble opinion, this also helps to explain why some athletes wind up having thoracic outlet surgeries after elbow and shoulder surgeries. If you do a ton of rehab arm care work in the wrong positions, you aren't just putting the glenohumeral (ball/socket) and scapulothoracic (shoulder blade/rib cage) in bad positions; rather, you're also negatively impacting the orientation of the ribs that help to determine whether crucial nerve and vascular structures are impinged. 😬 Move well before you move a lot. πŸ‘#cspfamily

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The Best of 2017: Strength and Conditioning Videos

With my last post, I kicked off the "Best of 2017" series with my top articles of the year. Today, we'll highlight the top five videos of the year. These videos only include instructional videos, not quick exercise demonstrations.

1. Why I Don't Like Scap Push-ups - I used to use scap push-ups, but got away from them several years ago. This video details why.

2. Bench Press Technique, Shoulder Health, and Elbows Tucked vs. Flared - Elbows tucked vs. elbows flared: which is better for shoulder health? Check out this video to find out.

3. Should You "Balance" Pushes and Pulls? - I don't think it's as simple as balancing pushes and pulls in your training program. Here's why.

4. Making Sense of Serratus Anterior - I write and speak a lot about the importance of serratus anterior for shoulder health and performance. Here's what happens when it doesn't do its job.

5. Deadlift Technique: Set-up Tips - I've often said that the solution is in the set-up, and the deadlift is a perfect example.

I'll be back soon with the top guest posts of 2017!

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Video: Why Serratus Anterior Matters

I've written and spoken a lot about the importance of proper serratus anterior function for shoulder health. In today's video, I want to demonstrate this importance in a non-traditional way: by showing what happens when serratus anterior isn't able to do its job. Check out the impact of long thoracic nerve palsy on shoulder function:

Speaking of shoulder health, if you're looking to learn more about how I assess, program, and coach for the shoulder joints, be sure to my popular Sturdy Shoulder Solutions resource.

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The Best of 2015: Strength and Conditioning Videos

With my last post, I kicked off the "Best of 2015" series with my top articles of the year. Today, we'll highlight the top five videos of the year. These videos only include instructional videos, not quick exercise demonstrations.

1. Avoid this Common Wall Slide Mistake - I'm a huge fan of wall slides for teaching good scapular upward rotation. Check out this video to see if you're making a common mistake on this front:

2. Steer Clear of this "Shoulder Health" Exercise - Continuing with the shoulder theme, here's a drill I don't particularly like. The good news is that I propose a suitable alternative. 

3. Serratus Anterior Activation: Reach, Round, and Rotate - This video covers some of our common coaching cues for a different variation of wall slides than featured in video #1.

4. 3 Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion Cues - This drill is both a great training exercise and an assessment. With the right cueing, you can clean the pattern up pretty quickly, in most cases.

5. Exercise of the Week: Split-Stance Anti-Rotation Medicine Ball Scoop Toss - This is one of my favorite medicine ball exercises for early on in training progressions. 

I'll be back soon with the top guest posts of 2015!

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Serratus Anterior Activation: Reach, Round, and Rotate

I'm a big fan of serratus anterior activation drills for upper extremity health and performance, but one only gets great benefits if exercise technique is on point. Check out these three key coaching cues you'll want to get serratus anterior engaged during your wall slides:

I should note that "exhale" would be a fourth cue, but it doesn't being with a "R" and therefore would've ruined the good blog title. That said, adding an exhale can help to establish better rib position and enable the individual to "feel" the serratus anterior working a bit more. 

If you're looking for more upper extremity assessment and training insights - particularly with respect to serratus anterior - be sure to check out Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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