Serratus anterior golf injury – find out causes and treatment now!

The intercostal muscles or rib muscles play a vital role in breathing in and out correctly. Any injuries experienced around the chest are, in most cases, severe. Sustaining a serratus anterior golf injury will not only be painful but will take you out of a hold on your golfing for a while.

What is serratus anterior?

image of serratus anterior golf injury

Serratus anterior, also called boxer’s muscle, refers to a broad muscle located between the thorax and scapula. Its fibers extend medially and posteriorly from the lateral ribs before running deep into the scapula, which is, running from the first rib, down to the eight. 

It is inserted under the surface of the scapulas medial border, lying along the subscapularis and sharing a solid attachment with the rhomboid minor and major. 

Its origin is on the upper ribs inserted on the anterior and medial border of the scapula. Serratus anterior, its name comes from the location and appearance. Its jagged edges, which are similar to the serrated knives, and its location on the front of the body.

The serratus anterior’s multiple functions in the body make it critical to healthy rhythms during movements such as pushing, reaching, and throwing. Without it, proper muscle contraction and optimal strength in the shoulder and neck muscles will be impossible.

The boxer’s muscles or serratus anterior is most visible on active bodybuilders, with the long thoracic nerve traveling on the muscle’s surface innervating it. Aside from coordinating the movement of the neck and shoulder muscles, it also plays a significant role in forceful inhalation.

Overview of the serratus anterior

Serratus anterior also serves as an accessory muscle of respiration, so it is usually used during labored breathing caused by exercise. Its primary action is described by the upward rotation and protraction of the scapula. Also known as the boxer’s muscle, which moves the scapula similarly to the motion that happens when a person throws a punch. It is also responsible for holding the scapula close to the rib cage to assist the movement of the arm. As it works along with other muscles such as the rhomboideus major, levator scapulae, trapezius, and pectoralis minor, it can also control your scapula by pulling it downward and forward.

serratus anterior golf injury

Serratus anterior golf injury – Explained.

Bruises and injuries around the ribs make it difficult to keep your golf swing smooth. Break a rib, and you can wave goodbye to stepping your feet back into the course until the bone heals. 

Playing golf with a broken rib is not only painful but potentially dangerous. Bone fragments that puncture or tear the lining of the lungs can lead to life-threatening complications. Letting a minor rib fracture or bruise rest for a few weeks can help you get back to the normal you – but you should consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Every rib is relatively fragile. However, the cartilage between your sternum and ribs allows your chest cavity to be flexible. This will enable it to absorb shock and change position as your body moves. Rib injuries can range from impact bruises to stress fractures. For example, if you are accidentally hit by a club while catching a ball, you may bruise your ribs. This will usually heal within a few days. Stress fractures occur when you apply too much force to the ribs.

Serratus anterior golf injury causes

According to NYU Langone Medical Center, serratus anterior golf injury sometimes occurs due to repetitive and strenuous upper body movements. This includes the regular swings and powerful activities and actions required to play golf. In particular, teeing off from the tee on a full-size course can put a lot of stress on the ribs and the serratus anterior muscles. Despite this, serratus anterior golf injuries are a relatively uncommon problem in golf. If you damage your ribs or strain a muscle or two while playing golf, you will feel pain during your swing and, in some cases, see bruising around the affected ribs.


In a 1994 study published in the Chinese Medical Journal, researchers concluded that amateur golfers are likely to suffer stress fractures of the rib cage due to:

  • under-stretching
  • poor technique
  • excessive practice or overuse
  • poor nutrition
  • wear and tear from repetitive motion 
  • Blunt force-related injuries to the serratus area

In addition, using the wrong equipment also increases the chance of serratus anterior-related injuries. Extra-long clubs mean you’re more likely to hit the ground rather than hit the ball during your swing. The impact can be transferred to the bones and body and can injure the ribs in severe cases.

Symptoms of serratus anterior golf injury

Any injuries sustained by the serratus anterior muscle often result in chest, back, or arm pain, primarily due to the muscle fibers’ location and function. Such injuries may also make it difficult for you to raise your arms above your head or the normal range of motion of your arms and shoulders. 

When a golfer sustains a serratus anterior injury, pain is the constant symptom, so some refer to this pain as the serratus anterior pain. 

Serratus anterior pain will manifest in several ways, such as

Pain in your arms or fingers

Difficulty breathing deeply


Tightness of the rib area

Chest or breast pain

Scapular pain

Some symptoms common with golfers may include one of the following:

unable to tee without pain

sour neck after playing golf

lower back pain after golf swing

sour back after playing golf

Treatment of serratus anterior golf injury

Depending on the serratus anterior muscle injury severity, resting for a few weeks while taking the doctor’s prescribed pain medication will relieve the serratus anterior pain, heal your strained muscles and get you back into the golf course looking new. 

In mild cases, these techniques will assist in your recovery process: 

  • Resting is prioritized as the ultimate treatment for many rib injuries, particularly for serratus anterior golf injuries. (Read: How to sleep with a subluxated rib.)
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects.
  • Do not attempt playing golf. 
  • Wear a rib protector or rib wrap/brace for up to two months. 
  • Rib injury rehabilitation exercises. 
  • hot and cold compresses (The same technique as outlined for dislocated ribs treatment)
  • Practice deep breathing exercises at home; shallow breathing after a rib fracture can lead to pneumonia.

Your doctor may prescribe CT, X-ray, or MRI scans to rule out more severe injuries in severe cases. In addition, your doctor may prescribe you with one or more of the following

  • oral steroids
  • muscle relaxers
  • stronger pain medications
  • joint injections



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