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(Last Updated On: March 10, 2019)

Deltoid Muscle Origins, Insertions, Actions

Muscle Anatomy of the Anterior Deltoid

Origin: Anterior border of the lateral third of the clavicle
Insertion: The deltoid tuberosity on the lateral surface of the proximal humeral shaft
Actions: Flexion and internal rotation of the arm at the shoulder
Innervation: Axillary nerve (C5, C6)
Blood Supply: Posterior humeral circumflex

Deltoid Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

Primary Actions of the Anterior Deltoid

1. Flexion of the arm at the shoulder

  Agonists:

  • Biceps brachii
  • Coracobrachialis
  • Pectoralis major (clavicular head)

  Antagonists:

  • Deltoid (posterior part)
  • Triceps brachii (long head)
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Pectoralis major (sternal head)
  • Teres major

2. Internal rotation of the arm at the shoulder

  Agonists:

  • Subscapularis
  • Pectoralis major
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Teres major

  Antagonists: 

  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres minor
  • Deltoid (posterior)

Muscle Anatomy of the Middle Deltoid

Origin: Lateral border of the acromion process of the scapula
Insertion: Deltoid tuberosity on the lateral surface of the proximal humeral shaft
Actions: Abduction of the arm at the shoulder
Innervation: Axillary nerve (C5, C6)
Blood Supply: Posterior humeral circumflex

Primary Actions of the Middle Deltoid

1.  Retraction of the scapula

  Agonists:

  • Rhomboid major
  • Rhomboid minor

  Antagonists: 

  • Serratus anterior
  • Pectoralis minor

Muscle Anatomy of the Posterior Deltoid

Origin: Inferior edge of the scapular spine
Insertion: Deltoid tuberosity on the lateral surface of the proximal humeral shaft
Actions: Extension of the arm at the shoulder
Innervation: Axillary nerve (C5, C6)
Blood Supply: Posterior humeral circumflex

Primary Actions of the Posterior Deltoid

1. Extension of the arm at the shoulder

  Agonists:

  • Triceps brachii (long head)
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Pectoralis major (sternal head)
  • Teres major

  Antagonists: 

  • Deltoid (anterior part)
  • Biceps brachii
  • Coracobrachialis
  • Pectoralis major (clavicular head)

Secondary Actions of the Posterior Deltoid:

1. Assists with external rotation of the arm at the shoulder

  Agonists:

  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres minor

  Antagonists: 

  • Deltoid (anterior part)
  • Teres major
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Pectoralis major
  • Subscapularis

Information about cause and effect of Deltoid muscle pain:

Deltoid muscles shoulder pain and weakness

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Recommended Anatomy Books:

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 by 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.

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 layperson who wants to gain an understanding of the muscle, skeletal system and how our bodies move. This book will not disappoint!

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 the recommended treatments for each muscle.

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