How to Stretch the Serratus Anterior

Keep your shoulder in good working order by stretching your serratus anterior.

Keep your shoulder in good working order by stretching your serratus anterior.

Your serratus anterior is a small muscle under your arm that primarily helps move your shoulder blade forward but also assists back muscles with other movements. Think boxing jabs! The serratus anterior is attached to the top of your ribcage and scapula, or shoulder blade. Unless you hang out with shirtless male boxers or bodybuilders a lot -- if so, lucky you -- this muscle is easy to overlook. That said, if this muscle tightens up, it can be a literal pain in the side. Prevent soreness and help keep upper body movement loose with serratus anterior stretches.

Standing Triangle Straddle Bends

Stand with your feet apart, straddled past your shoulders. It’s not a splits competition -- just find a comfortable wide stance.

Raise your right arm straight up over your head with your palm turned inward. Keep your arm in close so that the inside of your elbow is touching your ear. Stand tall, imagining a string glued to the top of your head and someone pulling up on it.

Place your left hand on your left thigh and slide it down your leg, so your torso bends sideways but you are still facing forward. With your straight right arm, reach for the left wall until you feel a stretch along your upper right ribs. Ease into the stretch as far as you can and hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side of your body -- left arm up and reaching for the right wall.

Supine Snow Angel Exercise

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Press your lower back into the floor.

Make a "W" with your arms by your head. Start by lifting your arms straight over your head with the backs of your hands on the floor. Next, bend your elbows and pull them down to the side of your head into the "W."

Make a "snow angel" with your arms, sliding your arms from the "W" back up straight over your head and then back to "W." Be sure your whole arm stays in contact with the floor throughout the entire motion. Repeat 10 to 12 times.

Tip

  • Get a little glisten going and warm-up by walking or jogging for 5 to 10 minutes before you do any stretching exercises. Warm muscles are more flexible, and you’ll get better results for your efforts.

Warning

  • Since the serratus anterior is a fairly small and delicate muscle, it is relatively easy to pull or injure it if you do stretches or exercises with incorrect form. Pay careful attention to form cues, pay attention to your bodies' limits and ask a fitness professional for help if you have any further questions or concerns.
 

About the Author

Jilana Dennis is a health and fitness writer based out of San Antonio, Texas. Dennis is a nationally certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise and holds a B.S in exercise science from Illinois State University.

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