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.


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

Levator Scapulae

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

Serratus Anterior

Muscle which anchors the scapula to the ribcage to prevent winged scapula.


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


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

Pectoralis minor


The smaller of two chest muscles protracts the scapula.

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.