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The supraspinatus muscle

(M. supraspinatus)


The supraspinatus muscle is a skeletal muscle which runs almost horizontally above the shoulder. It is a muscle of the rotator cuff and makes stabilization of the head of the humerus in the shoulder joint possible. It fulfills the function together with the M. teres minor, the M. infraspinatus, and the M. subscarpularis. The supraspinatus muscle of a human being is completely covered by the M. trapezius. Its function is to assist the M. deltoideus in abducting the arm from the body and it supports shoulder muscles situated on the backside for outer rotation of the arm in the shoulder.

The tendon of the M. supraspinatus often plays an important role for painful problems in the shoulder. It is especially permanent overhead working or repetitive throwing activities (all arm motions beyond the horizontal) which cause an increased friction and repeated clamping in the shoulder zone. The bursa, which is situated between the tendon and the bone structure (acromion), is irritated for stress. This can cause irritations, swellings, and inflammations of tendon and bursa (Bursitis subacrominalis). The space of the passage of the tendon is constricted and painful impingement symptoms are caused. A sharp pain while trying to grasp into the back pocket is a typical sign of the impingement syndrome.  

At advanced age, the tendon often tears (also spontaneously) because of degenerative changes (due to wear). Before a tendon tears, it is often a painful interference of functions produced, caused by clamping of tendons. The supraspinatus tendon is clamped between acromion and head of the humuerus. A stiff shoulder is caused, a so called "frozen shoulder".



M. supraspinatus



Hole on upper edge of the shoulder blade (Fossa supraspinata scapulae)

Insertion: Protuberance of head of humerus (Tuberculum majus humeri)

Abduction and outer rotation of the arm in the shoulder, stabilization of humerus, tightener of the joint capsule




Exercise examples



Upright rowing
Aurechtes Rudern


Course of motion:

  • Stand with slightly straddled legs
  • Torso is straight and fixed
  • Hold the bar in upper grip in front of the thighs
  • Hands are shoulder width apart
  • Pull the bar upwards to the collarbone (close to the body)
  • Elbows have to be lifted and always higher than the hands



  • Inhale while moving upwards
  • Exhale while moving downwards


Advices of proof:

  • Elbows are higher than hands
  • Smooth course of motion
  • Move the bar close to the body



  • Upright rowing with barbell


Outer rotation (cable control)


Course of motion:

  • Fix the end of the Thera-Band on elbow height
  • Stand with shoulder axis lateral in extension of pulling direction
  • Stand hip width apart
  • Knees are slightly bent
  • The shoulder, which is to be exercised, is further away
  • Hold the Thera-Band with the hand which is further away from the fixed point
  • Hold the wrists straight
  • Fix elbows on the body
  • Tense trunk muscles
  • Start in inner rotation (approx. 30°)
  • Move the hand outwards against the resistance
  • Outer rotation of upper arm up to approx. 30°



  • Exhale while doing the outer rotation
  • Inhale while returning


Advices of proof:

  • Motion comes from the shoulder
  • Fix elbows
  • Tense abs and back muscles
  • No evasion movement in the trunk



  • Outer rotation on cable control in sitting position
  • Outer rotation with dumbbell


Use different training equipment for exercising the supraspinatus muscle and creating a varied and motivating workout. Use training accessoreis like, i.e.:



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