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Overhead Athletes: Don't Sleep O The Importance of Serratus Anterior, Lower Trap, and Infraspinatus.

Shoulder injuries are a common issue in overhead athletes, often stemming from overuse, poor neuromuscular control, or inadequate training. While most people focus on the major muscle groups surrounding the shoulder joint, such as the deltoids and pecs, there are three underrated muscles that play a crucial role in shoulder stability and function: the serratus anterior, lower trapezius, and infraspinatus. In this blog post, we'll delve into the significance of these muscles and how strengthening them can prevent injuries and enhance overall shoulder health.


Serratus Anterior: The serratus anterior muscle is located along the sides of the rib cage, resembling the serrated edge of a knife, hence its name. Despite its inconspicuous

location, this muscle is vital for optimal shoulder function. It works to stabilize the scapula (shoulder blade) against the rib cage, allowing for smooth and controlled movement of the arm overhead. Weakness in the serratus anterior can lead to scapular winging, where the shoulder blade protrudes from the back, increasing the risk of shoulder impingement and rotator cuff injuries.

Exercises to strengthen the serratus anterior include:

  • Scapular wall slides

  • Serratus Push-ups

  • Serratus punches with resistance bands







Lower Trapezius: The trapezius muscle is well-known, but its lower portion often gets overlooked in shoulder rehabilitation and training programs. The lower trapezius plays a crucial role in maintaining proper scapular positioning and shoulder stability. Weakness in this muscle can result in scapular dyskinesis, where the shoulder blade moves abnormally during arm movements, leading to increased stress on the shoulder joint and potential injury.

Exercises to target the lower trapezius include:

  • Prone Y's and T's

  • Scapular retraction exercises

  • Face pulls with external rotation




Infraspinatus: The infraspinatus is one of the four muscles that make up the rotator cuff, yet i

t often receives less attention compared to its counterpart, the supraspinatus. However, the infraspinatus plays a critical role in stabilizing the shoulder joint and facilitating external rotation of the arm. Strengthening this muscle can help prevent shoulder impingement, rotator cuff tears, and other overuse injuries commonly associated with repetitive overhead activities.

Exercises to strengthen the infraspinatus include:

  • External rotation exercises with resistance bands or dumbbells

  • Prone horizontal abduction with external rotation

  • Lawn mower or single-arm row variations



Incorporating exercises targeting the serratus anterior, lower trapezius, and infraspinatus muscles into your regular workout routine can significantly improve shoulder stability, reduce the risk of injury, and enhance overall shoulder function. Whether you're an athlete looking to optimize performance or someone seeking relief from shoulder pain and discomfort, don't underestimate the importance of these underrated muscles. Remember, a strong and balanced shoulder complex is key to maintaining a healthy and functional upper body.


For elite level sports physical therapy come check us out in person at our clinic in Akron/North Canton, OH.

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