The bone called 'scapula' connects the upper arm bone to the collarbone. The scapula is connected to the thoracic vertebrae T2 to T5 of the spinal column, mainly by the rhomboid muscles. The rhomboid muscle is a voluntarily controlled muscle. It being a skeletal muscle, its movements are governed by the somatic nervous system.
The rhomboid minor muscle is located above the rhomboid major. These two muscles together hold the scapula in its place. Rhomboid major, as the name suggests, is larger than the rhomboid minor.
Function of Rhomboid Major
As the name indicates, the rhomboid muscle looks like a parallelogram. It is a diamond shaped muscle. Both rhomboid major and rhomboid minor are attached to the middle part of the scapula. Because of these muscles, the scapula remains perfectly pressed against the thoracic wall.
These muscles play an important role in pulling the scapula toward the vertebral column, and pressing it again on the thoracic wall. When we move our shoulders and arms, these movements take place. Sometimes, these two muscles get mixed to form one single muscle. You are able to pull your shoulder blade towards the spine with the help of these muscles.
The rhomboid major plays an important role in stabilizing the shoulder blade. It promotes the activities which require repeated or continuous raising of the shoulders, for example, throwing a ball. Weightlifters and rowers use these muscles continuously.
Your appearance depends upon how strong the rhomboids are! If you have perfectly toned postural muscles, like the rhomboid and the erector spinae (muscles next to the spine), you can sit and stand erect with your chest out and shoulder blades pulled back. This gives you the 'squared shoulder' look. Weak paraspinals lead to the 'rounded shoulder' look.
Rhomboid Major Muscle Pain
What causes rhomboid muscle pain? Overstretched rhomboid muscles in the back can cause pain in the upper back or in the shoulder blade. Excessive squeezing of the shoulder blades together, and excessive circular motions of the arms, can cause swelling in the rhomboid major muscle.
Repeated movements that involve the use of rhomboid muscles and squeezing the scapulae together (for example, rowing) can cause pain in the muscle area, and also in the surrounding area.
Shortening of the pectoralis major muscle (upper chest muscle) can pull the shoulders forward, giving you the rounded shoulder posture. This can overstretch the rhomboid muscles, and you may experience pain in the upper back. In this case, you need to treat the pectoral muscles. Their elongation can help lower the back pain.
A torn or wasted rhomboid muscle can lead to scapular instability. The person may experience restricted movement of the upper extremity. He won't be able to move his arms and shoulders in all possible directions. Limited movement followed by pain and discomfort in the upper back, arms and shoulders, are the main symptoms of rhomboid problems.
Those who are suffering from weakened or injured rhomboid muscles should consult a physiotherapist. Similarly, those suffering from scapular instability should consult a physiotherapist too. Rhomboid exercises can help relieve rhomboid major muscle pain. Physical trainers recommend yoga and pilates to prevent scapular instability.
Physiotherapists may also ask you to perform yoga and practice pilates, as they help increase the strength and flexibility of the rhomboid muscles. These exercises promote coordination in the arms and the back. Regular rhomboid exercises can help you enjoy better posture and a healthier back.