Wrist Extensors: Functional Anatomy Guide

The wrist extensors are a group of nine individual muscles on the back of the forearm that act on the wrist and fingers. Collectively, their primary function is wrist extension, though they also help carry out other movements of the wrist and fingers. The individual wrist extensor muscles are as follows: Extensor carpi radialis longus … Read more

Posterior Deltoid: Functional Anatomy Guide

The posterior deltoid (L. posterior, behind ; deltoides, triangular) refers to the rear head of the three-headed deltoid muscle. It acts on the shoulder joint and is the prime mover in shoulder horizontal abduction. Located on the back of the shoulder – medial to the lateral deltoid and lateral to the middle trapezius – the posterior … Read more

Erector Spinae: Functional Anatomy Guide

The erector spinae (erigere, to erect ; spina, spine.) consists of three long, thin muscle groups running vertically up each side of the vertebral column: the iliocostalis, longissimus and spinalis. These muscles act on different segments of the vertebral column (i.e. lumbar, thoracic, cervical). Collectively, they are the prime movers in spinal extension and spinal … Read more

Internal Oblique: Functional Anatomy Guide

The internal oblique (L. internus, internal ; obliquus, oblique.) is a flat sheet of muscle on either the side of the lower torso. It gets its name from being beneath the external oblique and having an oblique fiber direction relative to the midline. The most prominent actions of the internal oblique are spinal lateral flexion and spinal rotation. Notably, … Read more

Lateral Deltoid: Functional Anatomy Guide

The lateral deltoid (L. latus, side ; deltoides, triangular) is the outermost head of the deltoid and is primarily responsible for performing shoulder abduction. The lateral deltoid is part of the scapulohumeral (intrinsic shoulder) muscle group. It is situated between the anterior and posterior deltoid, and lies superficial to the insertions of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor. It originates from the acromion process on … Read more

Infraspinatus: Functional Anatomy Guide

The infraspinatus (L. infra, below ; spinus, spine [of scapula]) is a thick rotator cuff muscle covering the majority of the posterior surface of the shoulder blade below the scapular spine. It is a prime mover in shoulder external rotation and plays important roles in shoulder stability. Most notably, it prevents excessive anterior and posterior … Read more

Wrist Flexors: Functional Anatomy Guide

The wrist flexors refer to six muscles in the anterior compartment of the forearm that act on the wrist and finger joints. As a group, the primary action of the wrist flexors is, you guessed it… wrist flexion! As I’ll detail later, these muscles are also responsible for other movements of the fingers and wrist. Each of … Read more

Levator Scapulae: Functional Anatomy Guide

The levator scapulae (L. levator, elevator ; scapulae, shoulder blades.) is a strap-like muscle in neck and shoulder region. It acts on the scapula and cervical spine, and as its name reveals, its most prominent role is scapular elevation. Classified as a superficial posterior axioappendicular (extrinsic shoulder) muscle, the levator scapulae is situated deep to … Read more

Rhomboids: Functional Anatomy Guide

The rhomboid major and minor (L. rhomboideus, parallelogram ; major, larger ; minor, smaller.) are two muscles located between the shoulder blades and spinal column. If you took geometry, you might’ve guessed that they’re named after the rhombus shape, which they both resemble. Acting on the shoulder blades, both of these muscles are prime movers … Read more

Pronator Teres: Functional Anatomy Guide

The pronator teres (L. pronus, lying face down ; teres, round and long.) is an elongated, cylindrical forearm muscle that crosses the gap between radius and ulna. It’s the strongest of the two pronator muscles. However, it is only active during rapid or resisted forearm pronation, which it carries out with help from the pronator quadratus. Notably, it also plays … Read more