Shoulder Muscles Anatomy

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Published: April 22, 2016
Last reviewed: December 9, 2016

Shoulder muscles move the shoulders, shoulder blades and upper arms.

The main shoulder muscles are trapezius, deltoid, pectoralis major and 4 rotator cuff muscles: subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor. The list of muscles and their functions are presented below. Muscle attachments (origins, insertions) are described in the video at the bottom of this article and in the articles about the shoulder girdle and shoulder blade.

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Muscles at the Back of the Shoulder

Shoulder muscles

Picture 1. Muscles at the back of the shoulder
(free image use)

Superficial muscles:

  • Trapezius elevates and depresses the shoulder and brings together (retracts) the shoulder blades.
  • Deltoid (posterior and middle head) moves the upper arm sideways (abduction), brings it to the body (adduction), extends it backwards and rotates it outwards (external rotation).

Deep muscles:

Muscles at the Front of the Shoulder

Superficial muscles:

  • Deltoid (anterior head) flexes the upper arm forwards and rotates it inwards (internal rotation).

Deep muscles:


Video 1. 3D presentation of the shoulder muscles
with their attachments and functions

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