Supraspinatus Muscle: Action, Origin & Insertion

Instructor: Dan Washmuth

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

The supraspinatus muscle is one of the muscles that make up the rotator cuff of the shoulder joint. Learn all about this small but very important muscle by reading this interesting lesson!


What do these famous professional athletes all have in common?

  • Kobe Bryant (former NBA All-Star for the Los Angeles Lakers)
  • Drew Brees (All-Pro NFL quarterback for the New Orleans Saints)
  • Maria Sharapova (professional women's tennis player)

Besides being world class performers, each of these athletes has suffered an injury to their rotator cuff that required surgery to repair.

Drew Brees is one of many athletes who has injured the rotator cuff muscles of their shoulder joint.
drew brees

If you follow sports, you have probably heard of rotator cuff muscles, which are a group of four small muscles in the shoulder that help to stabilize the shoulder joint by keeping all the bones of this joint in their proper positions. The smallest of these four muscles of the rotator cuff is called the supraspinatus muscle.

The supraspinatus is a small muscle that makes up part of the shoulder joint.
supraspinatus muscle

Where is the Supraspinatus Located? Origin & Insertion

As you already know, the supraspinatus muscle is located in the shoulder. Specifically, this muscle originates from the supraspinous fossa of the scapula. The scapula is the official name for the shoulder blade, and the supraspinous fossa is a concave area at the top of the scapula.

The supraspinatus muscle originates from the supraspinous fossa, which is a concave surface at the top of the scapula.

From the supraspinous fossa of the scapula, the supraspinatus muscle then extends laterally (outward) and inserts onto the humerus, which is the long bone that makes up the upper arm. This muscle attaches specifically to the greater tuberosity (also called the greater tubercle), which is the round portion located at the outer, top part of the humerus.

The supraspinatus muscle inserts on the great tubercle of the humerus.

The Actions of the Supraspinatus

The main actions of the supraspinatus are to assist with abduction of the humerus and to stabilize the shoulder joint by securing the head (top) of the humerus in its correct position in the shoulder. Abduction of the humerus involves moving the humerus or upper arm away from the body, such as when you raise your arm straight up to your side.

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