Major Muscles and Actions Involved

In the shrug there is elevation of the clavicle and scapula, which involves the upper trapezius, levator scapulae, and rhomboids. In this action the shoulder girdle is raised directly upward (vertically).

Muscles in Action

Shoulder Shrug

Sports Uses

Shoulder elevation is needed in all sports that require getting maximum reach in all front and above the head directions. Thus it is important in football blocking and tackling and in executing weightlifting cleans. It is also important in reaching as high as possible to catch a ball as in baseball or football, hitting a ball from the highest position, such as in the volleyball spike, tennis overhead, and tennis serve.

Important Facts to Know

  1. It is interesting to note the action of the uppermost fibers of the trapezius muscles. When your head is free to move (not held firmly in place), contraction of the trapezius muscles on both sides of your head will tilt your head backward, raising your chin. If this happens, you will not be able to raise your shoulders. Therefore, to ensure that you do the exercise effectively, you must keep your head in place with your eyes focused directly in front of you. Doing this will also prevent you from leaning backward during execution, an action that distracts from full muscle development.
  2. The muscles involved in this exercise are very powerful, and because of this you can overcome a great resistance. However, be sure that the resistance you are handling does not limit your ROM. It is very important that you raise your shoulders as high as you can and basically "hide" your neck.