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  • To identify on the skeleton important bony features of the shoulder girdle

  • To label on a skeletal chart the important bony features of the shoulder girdle

  • To draw on a skeletal chart the muscles of the shoulder girdle and indicate shoulder girdle movements using arrows

  • To demonstrate, using a human subject, all the movements of the shoulder girdle and list their respective planes of movement and axes of rotation

  • To palpate the muscles of the shoulder girdle on a human subject and list their antagonists

  • To palpate the joints of the shoulder girdle on a human subject during each movement through the full range of motion and appreciate the role of the ligaments in providing stability

  • To learn and understand the innervation of the shoulder girdle muscles

  • To determine, through analysis, the shoulder girdle movements and the muscles involved in selected skills and exercises

The entire upper extremity depends upon the shoulder girdle to serve as a base from which to function. The only attachment of the upper extremity to the axial skeleton is via the scapula and its attachment through the clavicle at the sternoclavicular joint. To enhance understanding of how the shoulder joint and the rest of the upper extremity depend on the shoulder girdle, we will discuss it separately from the other structures.

Brief descriptions of the most important bones in the shoulder region will help you understand the skeletal structure and its relationship to the muscular system.


Two bones are primarily involved in movements of the shoulder girdle. They are the scapula (irregular bone) and the clavicle (flat bone), which generally move as a unit. Their only bony link to the axial skeleton is provided by the clavicle’s articulation with the sternum. Key bony landmarks for studying the shoulder girdle are the manubrium, clavicle, coracoid process, acromion process, glenoid fossa, lateral border, inferior angle, medial border, superior angle and spine of the scapula (Figs. 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4).

FIG. 4.1

Right shoulder girdle, anterior view.

FIG. 4.2

Right clavicle. A, Superior view; B, Inferior view.

FIG. 4.3

Right scapula. A, Posterior view; B, Lateral view.

FIG. 4.4

Right shoulder girdle surface anatomy, anterior and posterior views, respectively.


When analyzing shoulder girdle (scapulothoracic) movements, it is important to realize that the scapula moves on the rib cage as a consequence of joint motion actually occurring at the sternoclavicular joint and to a much lesser extent at the acromioclavicular joint (see Figs. 4.1...

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