In the first part of this article, we reviewed the anatomy of the serratus anterior muscle and its role of protracting the scapula. To help integrate our understanding, we physically explored the sliding protraction and retraction of the scapula in the pose ‘Protraction Retraction Push-ups’.
The serratus anterior stabilizes and protracts the scapula during pushing movements, such as in pushing open a heavy door, or in yoga when you do Plank or Chaturanga Dandasana. Activation of this muscle prevents the scapula’s medial border from lifting or “winging”, a common sight when these poses are performed incorrectly.
So, how do we activate the serratus anterior muscle in these exercises?
Actively push the floor away with your hands as if lifting your heart towards the ceiling and simultaneously imagine drawing the hands towards your feet like you are shutting a window. Continue with these cues all the time you are in the pose. As you do this you may feel the image I used in the first part of this article of the large 9 fingered hand hugging your back and side ribs and suction cupping your scapula onto your upper back. If it is too challenging on the ground, you can do it standing at the wall. The benefit is the same and it is easier to propriocept the serratus in this organization.
There is nothing like physically practicing to take words from a page and embody the movement! Try on your new plank and let me know how it feels in the comments below.