Serratus Posterior Superior – Functional Anatomy

Serratus posterior superior attaches to C6-T3 and inserts on ribs 2-5, trapping the 2nd and 3rd thoracic vertebrae. There is a thin sheet of connective tissue that continues from the short bellies of the muscle on the rib to the supraspinous ligament over the spinous process. The width of this aponeurosis varies significantly among dissections but tends to be a much larger part of the structure than is usually illustrated. This muscle is the most superficial of the intrinsic back muscles and straps across the erectors, levator costae, and intrinsic spine muscles.

This muscle acts as a 5th scalene in elevating the ribs for inhalation, especially when the person is bent forward, as when working on a laptop while reclining on a couch.

Origin – nuchal ligament from about C6 and along the supraspinous ligament and spinous processes from C7 to T2 or T3.

Insertion – superior aspect of ribs 2-5, just lateral to the angle of the rib

Function – elevation of the ribs, assists in inhalation

Nerve – T1-T4

Here is a structural overview from Neuromuscular Assessment:


This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.

Weekly Featured Post

Can’t Reach the Pain
Under the Shoulder Blade

This pain and tension under the shoulder blade may be the most common pain pattern that I see. It isn’t always the primary complaint as people have gotten used to the constant ache.

It is usually combined with this pattern in the upper neck, which creates upper neck tension to go with the shoulder blade pain.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

Question? Comment? Typo?
(404) 226-1363

Please note that some of the product links in the posts are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you purchase through that link. I’ve personally used most of these products and believe are genuinely helpful. Some products aren’t appropriate for me so I recommend it based on my experience with clients or the reviews online. The commissions I make are small and not worth promoting lesser products that would not produce suitable value. And please note, I do not advocate buying something that you can’t afford or that you’re not yet ready to implement.