Welcome to Purposeful Foam Rolling Blog:
Our purpose here is to help you understand what is causing your muscles to become tight stiff and sore, and the problems that can develop because of this tightness. We want to give you the knowledge and the tools so that you can take control of your self care.

Serratus Anterior

This muscle has been affecting runner since there have been runners.  It also can cause pain when taking a deep breath and mimic the symptoms of a heart attack.

 Obviously, you want to talk with your doctor first when it comes to pain while breathing or heart attack symptoms. If there is no related heath issue it could be the muscle Serratus Anterior causing these symptoms.It is amazing how often some one has a clean bill of health and yet are having these body pains. So lets take a look at this muscle.


I work with a runner, who mentioned that they tended to get a stitch or catch in their side when they cranked up their mileage. Especially if their stress level at work increased.  The Serratus Anterior was a main focus on her that session and with some additional foam rolling the problem disappeared.  So many times we are looking for medical causes for our pain. And certainly we want to rule out all of those possibilities.  Muscles especially when extremely tight (Most of us are extremely tight)  can cause serious pain and discomfort. Serratus Anterior can cause enough discomfort to interfere with our lives (runners stitch) or serious pain ( that drive us to pain medications or a doctors visit)

Again make sure you get a clean bill of health from your doctor first for any breathing difficulty or heart attack symptoms.

Serratus Anterior is located on the side of your chest. It is divided into three sections.
First (top) section:
Attach onto the front portion of the first and second ribs runs parallel to these ribs.  Continues under the shoulder blade and attaches onto the top part of the shoulder blade.
Second (Middle) section:
Attaches to nearly half the front part of the second and third ribs. Runs under the shoulder blade and attaches along the whole inside edge of the shoulder blade.
Third (Bottom) section:
Attach to the front parts of ribs 4 – 8 or 9 and run under the shoulder blade to attach to the bottom part of the shoulder blade.
This is a fairly big muscle that covers a lot of area.

You won’t be able to reach all of the muscle because a large portion of the muscle is under the shoulder blade and the chest muscle. To get a general idea of where Serratus Anterior is located take one hand and place it under your opposite arm just below the armpit.  Point your fingers toward your shoulder blade. Run your hand up and down your ribs. Roughly from your armpit to a little less then half way down your side.  You are running your hand over roughly half the muscle Serratus Anterior.  The other half lies under the shoulder blade.

This muscle is a major player in the movement of your shoulder. Some of the movements include:
Stabilizes the shoulder when pushing thing in front of us: ( Pushups, Pushing a car) Involved in forward (Extension) movement of the arm.
Involved in outward Abduction) movement of the arm.
Elevates  (Lifts up) the shoulder blade.
Depresses (Pulls down)  the shoulder blade.
Holds the shoulder blade against the ribs.
Involved in movement of ribs during

The typical symptom is chest pains when resting, It may also be difficult finding a comfortable position when sleeping. Discomfort when laying on affected side. Shortness of breath due to pain or pain with a deep breath. Pain or a catch may occur in your side during heavy breathing activities such as running. You may also experience
pain typically associated with heart attack, especially on the left side. Pain is rarely caused by arm movement except when forcing the arms forward (protraction) such as a boxers punch.


A Trigger Point is a hyper-irritated point in a muscle, which can cause pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. Serratus Anterior has one Trigger Point that creates pain in the side of the rib cage, the side of the chest, inside lower edge of the shoulder blade. Down the inside of the upper arm, inside elbow, inside forearms, The last two fingers and parts of the palm of the hand.

Poor posture, and high stress levels tend to make this muscle extremely tight.   Over working the muscle when it is already tight such as (running long distance or hard running, push-ups, or lifting heavy objects above the head) can take this muscle over the edge causing the Trigger Point to fire. Other activities that over stress this muscle are  severe coughing, or a quick or abrupt twisting of the upper body,

It is important to look at the type of activities you do throughout the day. Keep an eye on your posture and stress levels. keeping your body in good posture throughout the day makes a world of difference.  Also getting up and moving as often as possible. This is not only good for maintaining good posture but reducing stress levels. If you feel that it is tight reduce activities that may make it worse such as running or working out. Placing a warm moist towel over the area will help relax these muscles. A foam rollers is a great tool to help release the Serratus Anterior.

Be gentle and do not roll down onto the floating ribs, which are located on the lower part of your side. Also always make sure you have no  bone density ISSUES. Have this check out by your doctor first. Gentle stretching:

If you would like to take control of your own self care and learn more about our online Foam Rolling Program
“Purposeful Foam Rolling”

Christina and I are the creators of the online self care course “Purposeful Foam Rolling”. We teach you how to effectively and efficiently Foam Roll. So you can take control of reducing your muscle pain and tightness. This video is for educational purposes only. We are not treating, diagnosing or prescribing. We are giving you 15 Years of experience as Neuromuscular and Sports Massage Therapist. Check with your doctor first before doing this or any exercise program.



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