Scapular protraction

Last revised by Edward Zhou on 07 Oct 2021

Scapular protraction describes the forward movement of the scapula about the thoracic wall (scapulothoracic joint). As the scapula moves away from the midline it can also be referred to as scapular abduction. This motion usually occurs in conjunction with some scapular lateral rotation. This movement is made possible also by forward movement of the clavicle and the acromion at the acromioclavicular joint. The opposite movement is scapular retraction.

The muscles that primarily perform this action are serratus anterior and pectoralis minor, and these also maintain scapular apposition against the thoracic wall. 

Other muscles act to stabilize the scapula during protraction. The pectoralis major stabilizes protraction by preventing excessive motion of the sternal end of the clavicle. Rhomboid major and minor control the rate and range of scapular protraction 1,2.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: Scapulothoracic joint movements
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  • Figure 2: Muscles that position that pectoral girdle (diagram)
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