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Rhomboid Major and Minor Muscles: Understanding the Shoulder Blades' Stabilizers

The rhomboids are a common area for people to have and hold tension in their backs. This makes it a common place for massage and bodywork to create major therapeutic changes in the body. Fortunately, the rhomboids are easily cared for when you understand them, their proper function, and how to maintain their health!

Now let’s discuss where to locate the rhomboids, and what they do, and how to stretch and strengthen them!

Rhomboid Major:

Origination: Spinous processes of T2 to T5 vertebrae.

Insertion: Medial border of the scapula, between the spine and inferior angle.

Function: Primary function is to retract the scapula, pulling it towards the spine.

Rhomboid Minor:

Origination: Ligamentum nuchae and spinous processes of C7 to T1 vertebrae.

Insertion: Upper portion of the medial border of the scapula.

Function: Assists the rhomboid major in retracting the scapula and stabilizing it against the thoracic wall.

Okay, I get it, that was a lot of really fancy terms but what does all that mean exactly? 

Well you can find them on your back, between your spine and the inside edge of your shoulder blade. They sit directly under (Deep to) the Trapezius.

Common Daily Uses:

Posture Maintenance: Both rhomboid muscles play a vital role in maintaining proper posture, especially in preventing excessive rounding of the shoulders. I’m looking at all the people sitting at a computer right now! 👀

Arm Movements: Stabilize the scapula during activities involving arm movements, such as reaching and lifting and overhead activities such as throwing a ball. They are also responsible for pulling the shoulder blades together.

Since the rhomboids are responsible for pulling the shoulder blades back together, the opposite action is required to stretch them.

Rhomboid Stretches:

Begin by sitting or standing with a straight spine.

Cross one arm across the chest.

Use the opposite hand to gently pull the arm towards the chest until a stretch is felt between the shoulder blades. Make sure your shoulder isn’t moving up toward your ear when performing this stretch.

Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds 3 times on each side.

Stretch your arms out in front of your body. Clasp one hand on top of your other hand.

Gently reach out so that you feel your shoulder blades stretching away from each other.

Gently bend your head forward.

Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.

Repeat 3 times on each side.

Rhomboid strengthening:

Sit or stand with a straight spine.

Squeeze the shoulder blades together, as if trying to hold a pencil between them.

Hold the squeeze for 5-10 seconds, then release.

Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.

It is essential to perform stretches and exercises with control, focusing on the quality of movement rather than intensity. If you have any existing conditions or concerns, consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness and wellness expert before attempting new exercises. Regular stretching and strengthening of the rhomboid muscles can contribute to improved posture and reduced tension in the upper back.


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