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Weak/Non-Functioning Serratus in Left Side



This might be a little tough to grasp but stay with me. I'll try to iterate it as best as I can.

About 6-8 months ago I 'hurt' my left shoulder, more specifically my rotator cuff. At the time it wasn't a huge injury but limited my pressing and training. After a couple months of taking it easy I did Cressy/Robertson's Neanderthal No More. It was a good program and I following it fairly strictly for the duration.

Moving on - That was about 4 months ago. The discomfort remains, and at the same intensity. Daily life it's not bothersome, only when lifting.

The movements that bother it the most are: Flat bench, Military bench, Push-ups(probably the worst one), as well as most pressing movements. Some flys, and movements in the stretch position.

I'm very diligent in stretching my pecs so that (I hope) is not an issue.

I'm frustrated so I went and a saw a good Chiro/ART practitioner. We went through a full assessment and of course my rotators were short. We did ART and lengthened them. Felt about 50% better.

She concluded that my left Serratus is not firing and extremely weak. I tend to wing out on the left side shoulder blade, and raise the left shoulder when pressing over head. She said that was the left serratus not pulling the joint back down to stabilize it.

Ok fair enough. Now this is the weird part. Right where my serratus should be in the left side back (L4-5) I only have maybe 30% feeling there. It's been like that for 4-5 years I'd say and I never really noticed it. The Chiro was intrigued by this and there could be a nerve issue not firing the Serratus (speculation at this point).

When I'm free standing my torso tends to lean to the right (seems as if my serratus can't pull it back to even it out). When I press upwards, like a military press, my left shoulder shrugs up and puts me uneven.

Has anyone heard of this before?

Up until 8 months ago I had zero rotator issue in either side and now it just won't go away.

As for previous injuries, Not much that I can think for my upper body. I have dislocated my shoulders before playing football, but not severely. They both popped in on their own.

My lower body however is messy. I have tight right side IT, and tight left side Psoas as well as tight hipflexors. My left S.I. is the main thing that bothers my lower half. Can that be related to the Serratus issue?

Any help is appreciated.

If anyone is Interested I can PM them an older back pic to showcase this.

Thanks for any help!


muscle activation can be achieved by the following:

perform a couple of sets of isolation exercises

then follow with a compound exercise that also targets that muscle.

example assessment:
1.- 2Dumbbell Incline Shoulder Raise (if you are struggling for activating a muscle try instability tactics (try doing this exercise over a swiss ball, if you apply this, lower the weight)

2.- immediately follow with a compound like scap-push ups.

DONT forget to warm up before every workout (search youtube for upperbody warmups)


Maybe worth a look?



You could find a chiro who focusues on muscle activation in conjunction with ART. Isolation exercises can cause worse compensations if not done correctly.

Plateau buster what's your experience with injuries and rrehab?


Very Interesting. Thanks a bunch.


I've had some similar problems, when you got ART/massage did they work on your subscapularis? This muscle is located under the scapular but is quite easy to self massage. See here for how to do it:


I tried for a long time to get my left serratus to fire and that shoulder to pack correctly, when I worked the trigger points here it all started to fall into place. Previous post with the scalene massage worked for me also.

Also for the lower body give this a try:


Thank you very much. I'm seeing my Chiro today and asking for releases on my Scalenes and rotators. Thanks a bunch guys!


Hips can definitely be playing a role in your shoulder health. Make sure you're doing plenty of mobility work while you're rehabbing your issue (yoga is definitely a great activity, however, I understand that for most men, it's somewhat emasculating.) This video will help with exercises:

However, much do your dismay, if I were you, I'd avoid all overhead pressing while attempting to resolve this issue for a few reasons:

  1. It puts too much stress on the already exhausted cuff (as you can tell by the hyperactive trap that you described when performing overhead presses)
  2. You've already had shoulder injuries from football. So to continue to insult the already unstable joint AFTER it's already acquired previous insult would just be unwise.
  3. When attempting to resolve issues when you don't know what's wrong, it's very important to eliminate and possible external stressors. So to attack the issue one method at a time would be ideal.

You say certain pushing movements aggravate your shoulder more than others. It might be due to the order in which they are performed. SO, take them out then introduce them one at a time over a few weeks. This may bea long boring process, but hey... This has been going on for a few years already right? Whats a coupla more months?

  • Hope This Helps


Take a look at your daily life. Chances are you are rotated to the right throughout the day in some capacity.

For example, I've seen clients who always have their computer to the right of them. Thus, they are always slightly turned to the right. When you are always turned to the right the right shoulder will depress (droop), the left shoulder will appear to shrug up a bit, and the left scap will abduct/wing.

Exercises and manual therapy are great, but you need to get at the root of the cause of this. Which is likely whatever is causing you to be rotated throughout your daily life.