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Trapezius Anatomy Study: Origin, Insertion, Action and Innervation

Trapezius Anatomy Study: Origin, Insertion, Action and Innervation


Trapezius Anatomy Upper part: External occipital proturberance, medial third of the superior nuchal line, the ligamentum nuchae,  and the spinous process of C7
Medial Part: Spinous processes of T1 to T5.
Lower Part: Spinous processes of T6 to T12
Upper Part: Lateral third of the clavicle and the medial aspect of the acromion process of the scapula
Middle Part: Medial edge of the superior surface of the acromion process of the scapula and the superior edge of the scapular spine.
Lower Part: Tubercles of the apex of the scapular spine
Upper Part: Upward rotation of the scapula, elevation of the scapula
Middle Part:
Retraction of the scapula
Lower Part:
Upper rotation of the scapula, depression of the scapula
Innervation: Spinal Accessory Cranial XI , Ventral Rami C2-C4
Blood Supply: Branches from the thyrocervical trunk.

Synergist: Pectoralis major, Pectoralis minor, Subclavius, Serratus anterior, Latissimus dorsi, Rhomboid major, Rhomboid minor, Levator scapulae, Sternocleidomastoid

Antagonist: Deltoid, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres major, Teres minor, Subscapularis

For Trapezius Muscle Pain and Symptoms See: Trapezius Muscle: Stiff Neck, Headache, Eye, Jaw Pain


Primary Actions of the Upper Trapezius

1. Upward rotation of the scapula

  • Agonists: Serratus Anterior (lower fibers), Trapezius (lower fibers)
  • Antagonists: Levator Scapulae, Serratus Anterior (upper fibers), Rhomboids Major, Rhomboid Minor, Pectoralis Minor

Stabilizer: Trapezius (lower fibers)

2. Elevation of scapula

  • Angonists: Levator Scapulae
  • Antagonists:Serratus Anterior (lower fibers), Trapezius (lower fibers), Pectoralis Minor

Secondary Actions:

1. Assists with elevation of the cervical spine (distal attachment fixed, acting bilaterally)

  • Agonists: Sternocleidomastoid, Rectus Capitis Posterior Major and  Minor, Obliquus Capitis Superior, Splenius Cervicis, Splenius Capitis, Ilocostalis Cervicis, Longissimus Cervicis, Longissimus Capitis, Spinalis Cervicis, Spinalis Capitis, Semispinalis Cervicis, Semispinalis Capitis
  • Antagonists: Longus Colli, Longus Capitis, Scalenus Anterior, Sternocleidomastoid

2. Assists with lateral flexion of the cervical spine (distal attachment fixed, acting unilaterally)

  • Agonists: Longus Colli, Rectus Capitis Lateralis, Scalenus Anterior,  Scalenus Medius, Scalenus Posterior, Sternocleidomastoid,  Obliquus Capitis Superior, Splenius Cervicis, Splenius Capitis, Iliocostalis Cervicis, Longissimus Capitis
  • Antagonists: The same muscles as above but on the contralateral side

3. Assists with contralateral rotation of the head and cervical spine when acting unilaterally

  • Agonists: Semispinalis Capitis, Sternocleidomastoid
  • Antagonists: Semispinalis Capitis, Sternocleidomastoid on the opposite side of the neck.

Primary Actions of the Middle Trapezius

1. Retraction of scapula

  • Agonists: Rhomboid Major and Minor
  • Antagonists: Serratus Anterior, Pectoralis Minor

Primary Actions of the Lower Trapezius

1. Upward rotation of the scapula

  • Agonists: Trapezius (upper fibers) Serratus Anterior (lower fibers)
  • Antagonists: Serratus Anterior (upper fibers), Rhomboid Major and Minor, Levator Scapulae

Stabilizer: Trapezius (middle fibers)

2. Depression of the scapula

  • Agonists: Serratus Anterior (lower fibers), Pectoralis Minor
  • Antagonists: Trapezius (upper fibers), Levator Scapulae

Recommended Anatomy Books for Study


The Anatomy Coloring Book is one of the best study and reference books for beginning anatomy students. The diagrams are clearly labeled and allow you to see the relationship and placement of the various structures of the body. You will also be surprised how the act of coloring will help with recall. But this is not just a beginners book, it is also great for practitioners and therapists to have on hand to use with clients and patients to use as a visual reference.


Basic Clinical Massage Therapy

Out of the scores of books in my office Basic Clinical Massage Therapy is by far the most referenced book in my library. The musculoskeletal system is overlaid on human models allowing you to learn the precise location, origin and insertions of each muscle. The models are pictured in various poses throughout the book which also helps you visualize muscles in motion and their actions relationship with the skeletal structure and other muscles. Though it is written for massage therapists, it is an excellent book for anyone who wants to learn about the muscular system. MT’s will benefit from recommended treatments for each muscle.


Trail Guide to the Body

Trail Guide To The Body


The Trail Guide To The Body is another excellent book to help you learn the musculature of the human body. Though the book is geared toward massage therapists and physical therapist assistants, the book with its illustrations and text helps anyone gain a thorough understanding of the human musculoskeletal system and movement. I highly recommend this book for anyone studying anatomy and believe that MTs, PTAs, and teachers of body movements should have this book in their possession. I also highly recommend this book for the lay person who wants to gain understanding of the muscle, skeletal system and how our bodies move. This book will not disappoint!


Need a different book?  Huge Selection of Human Anatomy Books. Basic Study to Text Books Available!



The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook – Claire Davies, Amber Davies, and David G. Simons

Basic Clinical Massage Therapy: Integrating Anatomy and Treatment – James H. Clay and David M. Pounds

Trigger Point Therapy for Myofascial Pain – Donna Finando and Steven Finando

Massage Therapy Principles and Practice – Susan Salvo

Theory & Practice of Therapeutic Massage – Mark Beck


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