You can lift your arm parallel to the ground – but no higher!!!
“What!?” you may say and then show me that you can raise your arm over your head.
But you’re not lifting your arm!
Wait a minute! What are you doing?
Here’s what happens. Your shoulder blade tilts its lower edge up and to the side – it slides forward and up the ribcage. So from 90 degrees on up, your arm and shoulder blade don’t change their relationship – it’s your whole shoulder girdle whose outer edge goes up and sideways and so you’re able to reach over your head. This is called protraction of the shoulder girdle.
Who done it?
This mysterious muscle starts at the inside front of the shoulder blade, so it begins its life running between your shoulder blade and ribcage. Then its fibers continue to the side of the ribcage and – here’s where it gets its name meaning “notched” or “saw-like” – the serratus anterior has 8-9 slips of muscle attaching to each of the upper 8 or 9 ribs.
So when a knowledgeable therapist frees the side of the ribs, “melting” into serratus anterior, it will facilitate a smoother excursion of the whole shoulder girdle.
Chronic tension in serratus anterior will restrict movement in the side of the ribcage. Therefore, close attention paid to the serrated fibers of this muscle will give the person’s breathing a whole new dimension for enhanced movement and amplified energy.
For you anatomically adventuresome, get this:
When people are “round shouldered”, that may be due to chronic shortening of the serratus anterior which pulls the shoulders forward, yet pulls the ribs back! The chronically tightened serratus, like hands with fingers coming from the back and going to the sides of the ribs, will pull the ribs back, jamming them up against the vertebrae.
So melting into the serratus will also free the costo-vertebral joints in turn allowing for freer movement of your thoracic vertebrae!
Next time you explore the ribcage, gently work on and between the ribs along the side of the body (it can be ticklish!). Coax the breath to help relax things from inside out; gently encourage freer movement of the ribs; and visualize the joints in the back between the ribs and the vertebrae having more freedom as we breath and move about.
It will add a whole new dimension to your bodywork and to their ribcage!