Subclavius: Learn Your Muscles

The subclavius is a small muscle that connects your clavicle and your sternum. That may not seem like much, but the health of this muscle largely impacts the function of your Sternoclavicular (SC) joint, which impacts the placement of your shoulder. Every time you move your arm at the shoulder or take a deep breath, you rely on this muscle to work correctly.

Here’s more on this small but important muscle.


The origin of subclavius is at the junction of the first rib and the costal cartilage. The costal cartilage is the cartilage that joins the sternum and the rib. Subsclavius inserts in a groove on the underside of the clavicle. This groove is near the middle of the bone.



Thanks to Kenhub for the image.

Not surprisingly, the functions of the subclavius pertain to the placement of the clavicle (collarbone) and the stability of the sternum (breastbone). The subclavius depresses clavicle. This means that it pulls the clavicle down.

Also, the subclavius pulls the clavicle inferiorly and anteriorly. When the muscle contracts, the clavicle can move on a down and forward angle.

It’s also important to note the origin of the subclavicus. Because of its position on the top costal cartilage, it plays a role in the stability of the sternum.

You may not think about your clavicle or sternum that often, but they are involved every time you take a deep breath or move your arm from the shoulder. Without correct placement from these two bones, you could be in a lot of pain.

Common Dysfunction

If your subclavius is dysfunctional, it could create Sternoclavicular (SC) joint dysfunction. The SC joint is the juncture of the sternum and clavicle. This joint is the anterior connection of the main skeleton and the shoulder/arm. Basically, it’s because of this little joint that our shoulders and arms can be correctly positioned on our bodies.

Therefore, if the SC joint is dysfunctional, you can have instability and pain in this area. Dysfunction may be caused from traumatic injury (like a fall or accident) or from atraumatic injury (like from arthritis and other degenerative diseases).

Restoring or Maintaining Health

If you believe you have injured your subclavius, it’s best to see your doctor. Your doctor can prescribe all of the appropriate tests, medicine, and therapy to help you recover quickly.

For those who are simply wanting some exercises to maintain the health of this important muscle, here is a video with two exercises. Honestly, this is quite a tricky muscle to isolate. To find even two exercises that pertain directly to the subclavius feels like a miracle.

More Information

I consulted my Flash Anatomy Muscles Flash Cards. If you really enjoy anatomy and want a tool to help you locate specific muscles correctly, I highly recommend these flash cards. I turn to them any time a client comes in with pain.

Here’s a link to buy them on Amazon. If you purchase them from this link, I earn a small commission.

When do you notice that you’re using your subclavius? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.