Scapular Protraction

Scapular Protraction

What is scapular protraction & how does it relate to sports/training?

  • Scapular protraction is the action of moving the scapulas further apart (away from the spine). This action is used when reaching for items in front you or overhead. Additional, examples include giving a bear hug or throwing a punch. Structurally & posturally, the main protractor (serratus anterior) originates from the medial border of the scapula. As a result, this muscle keeps the scapula from winging. A winged scapula presents as the bony medial border of the scapula protruding from someone’s back when at rest, which impedes the ability to accomplish the activities listed above.

  • What primary muscles protract the scapula?

    • Serratus Anterior (left), Pectoralis Minor (right)

  • So, how does this translate to the gym & athletics?

    • The scapula protracts during the end of the concentric phase of most chest exercises, specifically push-ups, bench press, & flyes. It also protracts at the end range of the eccentric phase of rowing exercises. The serratus anterior is actually called the “Boxer’s Muscle” because this scapula protractor is active during the punching motion. Scapula protraction also occurs during the release phase to the follow through phase of throwing a baseball or football. As you can see, it is extremely important for almost all sports and training!
    • What happens if you have weak scapular retractors?

      • It can present as a winged scapula as described above. This winging would be exaggerated during a push-up

Check out the Strengthening Scapular Protractors post to find our favorite exercise to keep these muscle strong!


  • Neumann, Donald A. Kinesiology Of the Musculoskeletal System : Foundations for Physical Rehabilitation. 2016.

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