For individuals who sit regularly for work and are slumping forward, can strengthening the rhomboid muscles help prevent posture problems and relieve pain?

The Role of Rhomboid Muscles in Posture and Upper Back Health

Rhomboid Muscles

The rhomboids are a group of muscles in the upper back. A rhomboid major and minor muscle on each side of the upper back forms the shoulder girdle, which, along with other muscles, helps maintain the stability of the shoulder and shoulder blade. The rhomboid muscles control:

  • Pulling
  • Lifting
  • Rotating the shoulder blade.
  • These muscles also contribute to arm movement and enable lifting the arms above the head.
  • The rhomboid muscles support healthy posture and upper back. (Yoo W. G. 2017)

Sitting for an extended time, slumping forward, overstretching the arm above the body, sleeping on one side, repeated throwing motions, and sports like volleyball can affect the rhomboid muscles and cause pain symptoms.


There are two rhomboid muscles. The major originates on the thoracic spine from the second through the fifth vertebrae and inserts on the side of the shoulder blade facing the spine.  The minor is superior to the major and inserts on the C7 and T1 vertebrae. The muscles connect between the spine and each of the shoulder blades. When they contract, they pull the shoulder blades together. The muscle fibers run diagonally. They affix the scapula against the torso, allowing a stable base from which the arms can move.


When rhomboid muscles are overused or strained, symptoms can include the following:

  • Tenderness around the shoulder blade.
  • Limited range of motion in the shoulder.
  • Pain around the shoulder blade.
  • Upper back pain.
  • Neck pain.
  • Arm fatigue when performing repetitive overhead movements.
  • A crunching sound when moving the shoulder.
  • Weakness in the arm.
  • Chest pain.

Muscle Building

The action of the rhomboid is to bring the shoulder blades together, lift them or elevate them, as when shrugging, and rotate them so they face downward, away from the head. Bringing the shoulder blades together or scapular retraction builds the rhomboids to support the upper back.

To improve or prevent posture problems or mild, muscle-related upper-back and/or neck pain, 10 to 15 repetitions of scapular retraction performed one to three times every day are targeted exercises that could be recommended to help strengthen the muscles. However, consult a primary care provider, physical therapist, or chiropractor for serious medical conditions that affect posture to develop a personalized exercise program specific to the individual’s condition or injury. Everybody is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all when incorporating exercise to manage back pain. The physical therapy team may recommend other exercises to help manage or reverse any postural issues. (Kim, D. et al., 2015)

Overstretched Muscles

The human body has a unique and challenging relationship with gravity, which creates a downward pull on its structures, including the spine, head, and shoulders. As gravity pulls, the shoulders roll forward, and the chest can sink in. (Harvard Health, 2022). The rhomboid muscles may become overstretched, or the pectoral muscles and soft tissues in front may tighten up and constrict. Strengthening the rhomboids can help release the pectoral muscles.

Forward Head Posture

Unhealthy posture can lead to chronic pain and back problems. (Kripa, S. et al., 2021) Over time, unhealthy posture can also cause a forward head posture. (U.S. National Library of Medicine Clinical Trials, 2020) Forward head posture can lead to soft tissue strain, a kink in the neck, and fatigue in the muscles holding the head up, which can cause chronic neck pain. Maintaining strong extensor muscles in the lumbar and thoracic spine can help prevent back and neck problems as the body ages.

Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic

We passionately focus on treating patients’ injuries and chronic pain syndromes and develop personalized care plans that improve ability through flexibility, mobility, and agility programs tailored to the individual. Using an integrated approach, our areas of chiropractic practice include Wellness & Nutrition, Chronic Pain, Personal Injury, Auto Accident Care, Work Injuries, Back Injury, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Migraine Headaches, Sports Injuries, Severe Sciatica, Scoliosis, Complex Herniated Discs, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Complex Injuries, Stress Management, Functional Medicine Treatments, and in-scope care protocols to relieve pain naturally by restoring health and function to the body through Functional Medicine, Acupuncture, Electro-Acupuncture, and Sports Medicine protocols. If the individual needs other treatment, they will be referred to a clinic or physician best suited for them, as Dr. Jimenez has teamed up with the top surgeons, clinical specialists, medical researchers, and premier rehabilitation providers to provide the most effective clinical treatments. We focus on what works for you and strive to better the body through researched methods and total wellness programs.

Functional Healing


Yoo W. G. (2017). Effects of pulling direction on upper trapezius and rhomboid muscle activity. Journal of physical therapy science, 29(6), 1043–1044.

Kim, D., Cho, M., Park, Y., & Yang, Y. (2015). Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain. Journal of physical therapy science, 27(6), 1791–1794.

Harvard Health. (2022). Is it too late to save your posture? Exercise and Fitness.

Kripa, S., Kaur, H. (2021). Identifying relations between posture and pain in lower back pain patients: a narrative review. Bulletin of Faculty of Physical Therapy, 26.

U.S. National Library of Medicine Clinical Trials. (2020). Strengthening and stretching exercise to improve forward head posture and rounded shoulders. Retrieved from

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The information herein on "The Role of Rhomboid Muscles in Posture and Upper Back Health" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Deep Health Instruction, Integrative & Functional Medicine, Functional Fitness, Chronic Degenerative Disorder Treatment Protocols, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Wellness Nutrition, Wellness Detoxification Protocols and Functional Medicine for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility. Purpose & Passions: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures focused on clinical physiology, total health, functional strength training, functional medicine, and complete conditioning. We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal and soft tissue injuries. We use Specialized Chiropractic Protocols, Wellness Programs, Functional & Integrative Nutrition, Agility & Mobility Fitness Training and Cross-Fit Rehabilitation Systems for all ages. As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we too offer our patients, disabled veterans, athletes, young and elder a diverse portfolio of strength equipment, high-performance exercises and advanced agility treatment options. We have teamed up with the cities' premier doctors, therapist and trainers in order to provide high-level competitive athletes the options to push themselves to their highest abilities within our facilities. We've been blessed to use our methods with thousands of El Pasoans over the last 3 decades allowing us to restore our patients' health and fitness while implementing researched non-surgical methods and functional wellness programs. Our programs are natural and use the body's ability to achieve specific measured goals, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, controversial hormone replacement, un-wanted surgeries, or addictive drugs. We want you to live a functional life that is fulfilled with more energy, a positive attitude, better sleep, and less pain. Our goal is to ultimately empower our patients to maintain the healthiest way of living. With a bit of work, we can achieve optimal health together, no matter the age, ability or disability.