Shoulder Girdle Muscles

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The shoulder girdle consists primarily of the scapula bone and the clavicle bone or collar bone which move together as a unit. The shoulder girdle muscle are those which attach to and move these two bones. Select the shoulder muscles below to view more details, actions, origins and insertions.


Trapezius Trapezius - A large triangular muscle from the skull, to the shoulder and down the spine.

  Serratus Anterior Serratus Anterior - Muscle which anchors the scapula to the ribcage to prevent winged scapula.

Rhomboids Rhomboids - Major and Minor, between the spine and scapula to retract the scapula.

Pectoralis minor Pectoralis minor - The smaller of two chest muscles protracts the scapula

Levator Scapulae Levator Scapulae - From the skull to the scapula, this muscle elevates the shoulder blade.

Sternocleidomastoid Sternocleidomastoid - Large strap muscles on each side of the front of the neck.

Shoulder Girdle Movements

The movements available for the shoulder girdle or scapula in particular are:

  • Protraction - moving the shoulder blade forwards, away from the spine.
  • Retraction - pulling the shoulder blades back, towards the spine.
  • Elevation - moving the scapula upwards as in shrugging the shoulders.
  • Depression - moving the shoulder blade downwards.
  • Upward rotation - rotating the lower medial border of the scapula or shoulder blade away from the spine for example when the arm is moved out to the side and above the shoulder.
  • Downward rotation - rotating the lower scapula towards the spine as in moving the arm behind the back.