Swans must have strong command of their wings. They use them for social display, travel, affection and protection. We think of your shoulder blades or scapula as your wings. The Serratus are a crucial part of integrating your shoulders and arms into your functional alignment.
What is the Serratus Anterior?
There are three parts to the Serratus. We are focusing on Serratus Anterior due to our interest in scapula movement. (The Serratus Posterior Superior and Inferior mainly assist with respiration). The Serratus Anterior is an important muscle in functional movement and stabilization of your shoulder girdle.
Where is it?
Serratus Anterior runs from the border of your scapula closest to your spine around to your upper 8 ribs on your sidebody. On it's way it passes between the scapula and your ribs. Where it appears on the rib cage it looks like gills or fingers wrapping on a diagonal towards your center. It's lower fibers weave into your external oblique. Another favorite Swan muscle!
What does it do?
The Serratus protracts your scapula and holds it on to your chest wall. This wrapping of your scapula, as we often describe it, is crucial to creating a stable base for your arms. When your Serratus is weak your scapula will peel off your rib cage and stick up, called winging.
The serratus allows you to lift your arm over your head, have stable shoulders in planks and quadruped, provide functional strength in downward facing dog and so much more!
Serratus push ups are a simple exercise to get your wings working well. These push ups can be done with hands against the wall or in quadruped. Below are instructions for quadruped.
Serratus Push ups
Start on hands and knees with hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Take a moment to make sure your spine is long and neutral with you natural curves in tact. Inhale and lengthen your spine. Exhale feel your navel pull towards your spine without changing the shape of your back. Take few rounds of breath to solidify your set up. Then, on your next natural inhale keep your arms straight and allow your scapula to slide towards each other or towards the center of your spine. On your exhale widen your scapula around towards the side seams of your ribcage where your armpits are. Repeat with the tempo of your breath.
Tips for excellent execution
As you move through your serratus push ups take care to keep your spine neutral and long. It will be tempting to flex and curve your mid back, crank your neck or tuck under with your pelvis. Your thorax is doing a plank. Your scapula are doing the moving.
If you have hyper extended elbows keep them long but not hyper extended.
Maintain equal weight between your hands and your knees. It will be tempted to rock back into your knees. Keep your weight standing in your hands to help build strength.
Resist the urge to pull your scapula up towards your ears or down towards your waist band. These actions can make you feel strong but trigger muscles that will inhibit full range for your serratus.
Above Eleanor demonstrates Serratus Push Ups in Quadruped.