Multifidus Muscle: Origin, Insertion & Action

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  • 0:04 Multifidus Muscle
  • 0:33 Origin
  • 1:18 Insertion
  • 1:34 Action
  • 2:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

Expert Contributor
Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

The multifidus muscle is a very important muscle that extends nearly the entire length of the spinal column. Watch this lesson to get a crash course on the origin, insertion, and action of the multifidus muscle.

Multifidus Muscle

Have you ever played the cruel prank where you stood behind someone at their side and then tapped their far shoulder so they would turn around to see no one standing behind them? This simple prank is a great way to represent the movements caused by the multifidus muscle. The multifidus muscle is a thin, long, but very important muscle that extends nearly the entire length of the spinal column. The only vertebra that this muscle does not connect to is the very top cervical vertebrae (C1).


Since the multifidus muscle is such a long muscle, it has several points of origin, which are:

  • The back surface of the sacrum, which is the triangular bone at the very bottom of the spinal column.
  • The posterior superior iliac spine, which is a round, bony prominence at the back of each side of the pelvic bone.
  • The mammillary processes of the lumbar vertebrae, which are the bony prominences at the back, top of the lumbar vertebrae.
  • The transverse processes of the thoracic vertebrae, which are the bony prominences that stick out diagonally from the back of the vertebrae.
  • The articular processes of the cervical vertebrae (C4-C7), which consist of the bony prominences that stick out from the top and bottom of each vertebrae.


The multifidus muscle inserts onto the spinous process of each vertebrae in the spinal column, except for the very top cervical vertebrae (C1). The spinous process is the bony prominence that sticks out straight from the back of each of the vertebrae.


There are several movements of the spinal column that are produced by the multifidus muscle. These movements include:

  • Extension, or bending the spinal column backwards
  • Lateral flexion, bending the spinal column to each side
  • Lateral rotation, or twisting the spinal column to each side

Additionally, the multifidus muscle serves as a support for the spinal column, helping to maintain stability and correct positioning of each of the vertebrae (except C1).

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Additional Activities

Case Study: Patient with Malfunctioning Multifidus Muscle

This activity will motivate students to learn more about the multifidus muscle as they contemplate consequences of a malfunctioning multifidus muscle.

Students should write a document in the style of a medical research report, with the focus of the paper being on a hypothetical patient whose multifidus muscle is malfunctioning in some way. The audience for the paper should be other health professional students.

The paper should include the following points:

  • The location of the problem (one of the points of origin). For example:
    • The patient has a collapsed sacrum, which caused the multifidus to detach from the base of the spine.
  • A description of the damage and/or disability caused by the malfunctioning multifidus muscle. For example:
    • Due to the separation of the multifidus muscle from the base of the spine, along with the collapsed sacrum, the patient experiences severe pain when attempting to use the lower portion of his body (as in sitting or standing). Lateral rotation in the hips is very limited as well.


Students may wish to challenge themselves by writing about the causes and consequences of a completely missing multifidus muscle. Remember, this is a hypothetical scenario, and the causes/consequences may be fabricated but should be as realistic as possible.

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