Shoulder muscles

Anterior view of the thorax and upper part of the upper limb showing the muscles that act on the anterior shoulder

The muscles that act on the shoulder are responsible for elevation, protraction, retraction and upward and downward rotation of the scapula. Scapular depression is mainly caused by the force of gravity, but also supported by muscles. 

Adjusting the position of the scapula allows a wider range of movement in the shoulder girdle and upper limb. 

These six movements are accomplished by so-called axioappendicular muscles. These shoulder muscles all originate from the axial skeleton and insert at different locations of the scapula bone to fulfill their various functions:

Learn all about them with our interactive diagrams below!