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Serratus Posterior Inferior Muscle: Mid to Low Back Pain

Pain in the low-mid back is often caused by the serratus posterior inferior. Sleeping on a poor quality or old mattress can cause pain flairs from this muscle. Over stretching while reaching overhead will cause this muscle to spasm.

What pain and symptoms are associated with the serratus posterior inferior?

  • Aching in the low back often mistaken for kidney pain
  • Pain in the low back when stretching to reach overhead
  • Pain in the low back when twisting at the waist
  • Pain in the low back when bending over

Where is the serratus posterior inferior muscle?

The serratus posterior inferior muscle connects the lower 4 ribs to four vertebrae (T11, T12, L1, L2) in the low back.

What movements does the serratus posterior inferior muscle control?

  • Forced expiration (breathing out when breathing hard)
  • Assists with twisting at the waist
  • Assists with straightening the trunk (standing up straight)

Activities that cause serratus posterior inferior pain and symptoms:

  • Twisting the body when lifting
  • Overreaching overhead or to the side of the body
  • Lifting something heavy using the back muscles instead of leg muscles
  • Sleeping on a sagging or too soft mattress


Serratus Posterior Inferior Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

You use the serratus posterior inferior muscle when you straighten the back, twist at the waist and exhale.

Interesting facts about the serratus posterior inferior:

  • The serratus posterior inferior is one of the muscles that is achy and stiff when you have slept on a mattress that is too soft.
  • It is the muscle that cramps when you stretch too far when trying to reach something overhead
  • If the serratus muscles are tight, they can contribute to breathing difficulty

Clinical diagnoses to which the serratus posterior inferior muscle symptoms may contribute:

  • Rib Subluxation/Dislocation
  • Slipping rib syndrome
  • Costochondritis
  • Sprain/Strain syndrome of the mid-back
  • Thoracic Spine Hyperkyphosis
  • T10 T11 or T12 radiculopathy
  • Scoliosis
  • Kidney Stones
  • Kidney Infection
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the serratus posterior inferior:

Satellite trigger points associated with the serratus posterior inferior:

  • Iliocostalis
  • Longissimus thoracis
  • Trapezius
  • Serratus posterior superior
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Scalenes

For detailed anatomy information:  
Serratus Posterior Inferior Anatomy

Help with Serratus Posterior Inferior Muscle Pain

Cold Therapy For Low Back Injury and Pain

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel that I use for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries. It is better to use than warm therapy gels and creams for muscle pain caused by inflammation as it cools the area much like ice. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. To treat serratus posterior inferior pain, rub Biofreeze into the back lower ribs all the way down to the hip bone. If you have recently strained your low back or suspect that your mattress maybe contributing to your back pain I would recommend Biofreeze.

Hot Cold Pack For Back Pain Treatment

CorPak Soft Comfort Hot & Cold Pack Wrap is a large pack that can be used for hot or cold treatment. The pack is large enough to cover the back to promote relaxation and treat pain. To treat the serratus posterior inferior muscle, lay the pack on the painful side, just under the shoulder blade. Allow the pack to drape off to the side, coming down over the rib cage.

Warm Therapy Gel For Low Back Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel relieves muscle and joint pain better than most over the counter creams and gels that you find in stores. Unlike some other creams, Sombra warmth does not feel as if it is on fire. Within minutes you will notice that your pain has decreased significantly. I highly recommend this for sore achy muscles, and sore stiff joints. To treat the serratus posterior inferior muscle, rub Sombra into the lower back ribs over to the spine and down to the top of the hip bone.

Low Back Brace for Low Back Pain Caused by the Serratus Posterior Inferior Muscle

Professionals Choice Comfort Fit Low Back Support is my go to back brace. This brace has helped me more than any other with low back and low abdominal pain. The lumbar pad provides support without the uncomfortable restriction and poking of metal supports. The band is wide, covering the entire lower back.  It has an adjustable Velcro front closure along with adjustable Velcro side panels which can be tightened or loosened to provide support and compression.  The brace also reflects your body heat back into the muscles, providing warmth to tight sore muscles. For those with recent injuries or flare ups, it is comfortable enough wear all night and will not disrupt your sleep.

The brace is made of closed-cell, limestone-based Neoprene which is extremely durable and resilient. The brace retains it's shape over years of use and does not absorb moisture.  It can be machined washed on the gentle cycle.

I have recommended this brace to many clients and friends with chronic low back pain and everyone has commented how much it helps relieve their pain and helps with mobility. As with other back braces, it may not help much with sciatica pain, but it can provide additional support and warmth to low back muscles which may bring some relief. But if you have muscle, tendon or ligament injuries, new or old, I highly recommend that you try this brace!

Sizing: Small and Medium fits waists 22" - 38". Large fits waists 24" - 40". X-large fits waists 41" - 50. XX-large fits waists 51" - 60".

Trigger Point Self Treatment For Middle and Low Back Pain

Do you know that sleeping on a soft mattress can cause small 'knots' and other dysfuction in the serratus posterior inferior muscle that make the low back ache and spasm?

If you are interested in treating back pain caused by trigger points I  recommend you purchase Claire Davies The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language.  But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain,  how to find the trigger point and treat it. If you suffer from unresolved low back pain that is intense in the morning or have a stabbing pain in the back when reaching for something overhead, I highly recommend this book. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. Relieving trigger points in have helped many people resolve their pain issues. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

Easily Treat Hard  To Reach Areas Of The Body

The Theracane Massager is a self-treatment massage tool for use on those hard to reach areas on the neck, shoulders, back, hips and legs. If you are buying the book The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, you should consider buying the Theracane to use the treatment methods of the back and hard to reach muscles.