We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Protraction?

By Shelby Miller
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Protraction is an anatomical term used to describe the action of drawing the shoulder blades anteriorly and slightly apart. This scapular protraction produces a visible pushing forward of the shoulders. While the term protraction can be used to describe a forward-pushing movement of several other body parts, such as the head relative to the neck, it most commonly refers to the specific action at the shoulder girdle.

The opposite of retraction, which involves bringing the shoulder blades backward and together, protraction is made possible by multiple muscle groups in the upper body. Of these, the most significant is the serratus anterior. The serratus anterior is located just below the pectorals and above the abdominals on either side of the ribcage. Originating along the side of the chest from the topmost eight or nine ribs, it wraps around the side of the body and inserts along the medial or inside edge of the shoulder blade. It has a ribbed appearance as its fibers run parallel to the ribs: horizontally and angling slightly upward as they travel away from the midline of the body.

In addition to protracting the scapulae, the serratus anterior aids in scapular stabilization and rotation, helping to turn the shoulder blades upward as it draws them anteriorly. This muscle is highly pronounced in boxers, who use it to protract the scapulae as they throw a punch. In this case, protraction is also a useful tool for defense: inwardly rounding the shoulders and pulling them forward creates a smaller surface area of the torso for an opponent the land a punch, and therefore less area to protect with the arms.

Another muscle used in shoulder blade protraction is the pectoralis minor. Much smaller than its neighbor in the chest, the pectoralis major, the pectoralis minor is found beneath it. Instead of its fibers running horizontally, however, the pectoralis minor runs perpendicularly to the pectoralis major, with its fibers vertically spanning the upper ribcage. Attaching via a tendon to the top inside portion of the shoulder blade, the pectoralis minor is primarily responsible for depressing the shoulder, or pulling it downward, but it also participates in protraction by tilting the inside edge of the scapula backward as the serratus draws the scapula forward.

In many individuals, particularly those who sit in front of a computer all day, the muscles involved in protraction are tight and overdeveloped. This imbalance can be corrected by strengthening the muscles involved in retraction, those found between the shoulder blades in the upper back like the rhomboids, as well as stretching the protractors. Doing so will help pull the shoulders back where they belong into neutral postural alignment.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.