Trapezius Muscle: Insertion, Origin & Action

Instructor: Dan Washmuth

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

The trapezius muscle is one of the largest muscle of the back, a muscle where many people hold their stress. This lesson will provide all types of information about this muscle, including its origin, insertion, and action.

The Trapezius Muscle

Have you ever gotten a massage? If so, what is your favorite area to get massaged?

If you said the neck, shoulders, upper back, or mid-back, then your favorite muscle to get massaged is the trapezius muscle. The trapezius muscle is one of the largest muscles in the back. This muscle extends all the way from the base of the skull to the middle part of the back.

The trapezius muscle is a common area where people hold stress.
massage

Have you ever seen a really muscular person, such as a body builder, whose upper back muscles go all the way up to their head, making it look like they have no neck? This large muscle is the upper part of the trapezius muscle, sometimes simply called the traps.

Body builders can develop their trapezius muscles to make it seem like they do not have a neck.
trapezius muscle

Trapezius Muscle: Origin

As it was stated previously, the trapezius muscle extends from the base of the skull all the way to the middle of the back. Specifically, this muscle originates from the occipital bone, which is a bone located at the back base of the skull.

The trapezius muscle originates from the occipital bone, which is located at the back base of the skull.
occipital bone

On the occipital bone, the trapezius muscle originates from the superior nuchal line, the external occipital protuberance, and the nuchal ligament. The superior nuchal line is a ridge found on the occipital bone while the external occipital protuberance is a small prominence that sticks out at the bottom of the occipital bone. The nuchal ligament is a thick ligament that attaches to the occipital bone.

The trapezius muscle also originates from the spinous processes of the C7 through T12 vertebrae. The C stands for cervical vertebrae which are located in the neck, while T stands for thoracic vertebrae which are located in upper and middle regions of the back.

The trapezius muscle also originates from the C7-T12 vertebrae.
spine

Trapezius Muscle: Insertion

The trapezius muscle inserts or attaches to the clavicle (collarbone) and the scapula (shoulder blade) on each side of the body. Specifically, this muscle attaches to the outer portion of the clavicle and the acromion and spine of the scapula. The acromion is the part of the scapula that sticks out the top of the bone while the spine is the ridge at the top of the scapula.

The trapezius muscle inserts on the spine and acromion of the scapula.
scapula

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