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Key Muscle Locations and Movements

Use this page to find the attachments (origin and insertion), and movements created by the major muscles of the human body

What muscles cause certain movements?

Given that muscles make movement happen, each muscle will create a certain movement around a joint.  For instance the quadriceps muscle group will extend the knee and flex the hip.  The tables on the following pages detail the origin, insertion and action of some of the major muscles in the body.  Use these tables in conjunction with the muscle charts on (in this same folder at ptdirect) to help you locate and understand how these muscles create movement. 

 Major muscles of the back, shoulder and chest:

Muscle

Origin

Insertion

Movement/Action

Erector spinae

Lower four thoracic vertebrae 

 

Upper thoracic vertebrae and the cervical vertebrae

 

Extension of the vertebral column

Latissimus dorsi

Thoracic, lumbar vertebrae, sacrum and top of pelvis

 

 Upper part of humerus

 

Adduction, extention and medial rotation of the arm.  Retraction and depression of shoulder

Trapezius

Cervical and thoracic vertebrae, base of skull

 

Clavicle and scapula

 

Elevation, depression and retraction of the scapula

Rhomboids

C7-T5 vertebrae

 

Medial border of the scapula

 

Retraction and depression of the scapula. Fixes the scapula to the thoracic wall

Deltoid

Clavicle and spine of scapula

Upper part of humerus

Abduction, extension, lateral rotation, flexion and medial rotation of arm

Pectoralis major

Sternum, clavicle and 1st-6th ribs

 

 Upper front area of humerus

 

Adduction, flexion and medial rotation of arm

 

 Major muscles of the upper arm:

Muscle

Origin

Insertion

Movement/Action

Biceps brachii

Scapula

Radius

Flexion of elbow and supination of forearm

Triceps brachii

Scapula and upper part of humerus

Ulna

Extension of elbow

 

Major muscles of the Abdomen:

Muscle

Origin

Insertion

Movement/Action

Rectus abdominus

Front lower part of pelvis

5th, 6th and 7th ribs and lowest part of sternum

Flexion of vertebral column

External oblique’s

Lower ribs

Front upper part of pelvis

Rotation of vertebral column, compression of abdomen and flexion of vertebral column

Internal oblique’s

Top of pelvis

Lower three ribs

Compression of abdomen, flexion of vertebral column and rotation of vertebral column

 

  Major muscles of the hip region:

Muscle

Origin

Insertion

Movement/Action

Gluteus maximus

Rear part of pelvis, sacrum and coccyx

Top of femur

Extension and lateral rotation of leg

Gluteus medius

Upper part of pelvis

Outside of upper part of femur

Abduction and medial rotation of leg

Gluteus minimus

Mid outer surface of pelvis

Outside of upper part of femur

Abduction and medial rotation of leg

Hip flexors

(Psoas major and Ilicus) 

Lumbar vertebrae and top of pelvis

Upper part of femur

Flexion of femur and vertebral column.  Flexion and lateral rotation of leg


Muscles of the quadriceps:

Muscle

Origin

Insertion

Movement/Action

Quadriceps

(Rectus femoris, Vastus lateralis, Vastus intermedius, Vastus medialis) 

Front lower part of pelvis and upper part of femur

Top front part of tibia

Flexion of the femur and extension of the knee femur

 

Muscles of the hamstrings:

Muscle

Origin

Insertion

Movement/Action

 

Hamstrings

(Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus, Biceps femoris)

Lower back part of pelvis and femur

Upper part of tibia and fibula

Extension, medial and lateral rotation of leg.  Flexion of knee

 

Muscles of the calves:

Muscle

Origin

Insertion

Movement/Action

Gastrocnemius

Lower rear part of femur

Heel bone

Plantar flexion of foot and flexion of knee

Soleus

Upper rear part of tibia and fibula

Heel bone

Plantar flexion of foot