Superficial Muscles of the Human Skeleton

The following is a list of muscles you will need to know for your physiology class. Be sure to check the flash card list given in class. Included with the name is the origin and insertion and the action the muscle creates. They are organized by location/action. For those muscles which do not have a specific link to an image, examine the image for that group of muscles (hi-lighted titles for each chart).


Name Origin to insertion Action
Epicranius: Frontalis & Occipitalis Cranial aponeurosis to eyebrows Raises the eyebrows
Orbicularis oculi Portions of the frontal and maxilla to the Skin around eyes Blinks and closes eyes
Orbicularis oris Skin around mouth Closes and protrudes lips
Buccinator Mandible/maxilla to skin around mouth Flattens cheek against teeth
Zygomaticus Zygomatic bone to corner of lips Raises corner of mouth
Platysma Fascia of chest to lower border of mandible Draws mouth downward

Masseter Temporal bone to mandible Closes jaw
Temporalis Temporal bone to mandible Closes jaw

Sternocleidomastoid Sternum/clavicle to temporal bone Flexes neck, rotates head, raises the sternum
Splenius capitis Cervical/Thoracic vertebrae to Mastoid process Rotate head, move to one side, holds head upright
Semispinalis capitis Cervical/Thoracic vertebrae to Occipital bone Extends head, rotate head, move to one side


Pectoralis major Sternum/clavicle/ first to sixth ribs to proximal/anterior humerus Adducts and flexes humerus; pulls arm across chest, medial rotation of arm
Pectoralis minor Sternal edge of upper ribs to the corocoid of scapula pulls scapula down and forward;raises ribs when shoulder held still
Rectus abdominis Pubis to sternum/xiphoid/fifth to seven ribs Flexes vertebral column
External oblique Last eight ribs to iliac crest Flexes vertebral column

Trapezius Occipital bone/ Thoracic Vert (Spinous Process) to Scapular Spine, Acromion and Clavicle Raises arm, raise, lower, rotate and pull scapula medially
Rhomboideus Thoracic vertebrae (Spinous Process) to Medial border of Scapula Raises and adducts scapula
Latissimus dorsi Lower spine(sacral, lumbar and thoracic vertebrae), Iliac Crest to proximal, anterior humerus Extends, adducts, medial rotation of humerus, pulls shoulder down and back

ARM AND SHOULDER (Dorsal and Ventral) MUSCLE
Biceps brachii Scapula (Coracoid) to radial tuberosity Flexes elbow and supinates hand

Triceps brachii


Scapula (lateral edge)/ proximal, posterior humerus to ulna (olecranon) Extends elbow
Pronator teres Medial epicondyle of humerus to distal/lateral radius Rotates arm medially; Pronation
Pronator Quadratus Medial/distal ulna to anterior/lateral/distal radius Rotates arm medially; Pronation
Supinator Lateral epicondyle of humerus to distal radius Rotates forearm laterally; Supination
Teres major Scapula (inf. angle) to prox/anterior humerus head Extends humerus, adducts and rotates arm medially
Teres minor Scapula (lower/medial border) to humerus head (greater tubercle) Rotates arm laterally
Deltoid Scapular spine/clavicle to proximal humerus (deltoid tuberosity) Abducts humerus, rotates humerus laterally and medially
Supraspinatus Scapula (superior Spine) to humerus head (greater tubercle) Abducts upper arm
Infraspinatus Scapula (inferior Spine) to humerus head (greater tubercle) Rotates arm laterally
Levator scapulae Cervical vertebrae (Transvere process) to superior/medial scapula Elevates the scapula
Brachialis anterior/distal Humerus to ulna flex the Elbow
Subscapularis Anterior scapula to Lesser Tubercle of Humerus Medial rotation of Humerus

FOREARM MUSCLES: Ventral and Dorsal
Flexor carpi radialis Distal humerus (medial epicondyle) to second and third metacarpals Flexes wrist and abducts hand
Flexor carpi ulnaris Distal humerus (medial epicondyle)/ulna to carpals of wrist Flexes wrist and adducts hand
Flexor digitorum Distal humerus (medial epicondyle)/ulna to middle phalanges of second to fifth fingers Flexes wrists and fingers
Palmaris longus Medial epicondyle of humerus to fascia of palm Flexes wrist
Extensor carpi ulnaris distal Humerus (lateral epicondyle) to dorsal surface of fifth metacarpals Extends wrists and abducts hand
Extensor carpi radialis distal Humerus (lateral epicondyle) to dorsal surface of second and third metacarpals Extends wrists and abducts hand
Extensor digitorum Distal humerus (lateral epicondyle) to dorsum of second to fifth fingers Extends fingers/wrist


HIP/THIGH/LOWER LEG MUSCLES (ventral, lateral and dorsal)
Psoas major lower vertebrae (T12-L5) to lesser trochanter of femur Flexes hip
Adductor muscles Pubis to proximal/medial femur Adducts thigh (Flexion & Medial Rotation)
Sartorius Ilium (anterior crest) to medial tibia (tuberosity) Flexes thigh on hip; Lateral Rotation of hip; Flexes Knee


Rectus femoris

Vastus lateralis

Vastus medialis

Vastus intermedius

Vasti: Femur to tibial tuberosity through patellar tendon

Rectus femoris: Anterior Ilium near acetabulum to tibial tuberosity through patellar tendon

All extend knee; rectus femoris also flexes hip on thigh
Gastrocnemius Distal femur (condyles) to calcaneus (heel) through Achilles tendon Plantarflexes ankle and flexes knee
Peroneus(longus & brevis) Fibula (lateral head) to metatarsals of foot (base) Plantarflexes and everts foot
Extensor digitorum longus Lateral/Anterior tibia to dorsal second and third phlanges Dorsal flexion of foot and extension of toes
Flexor digitorum longus Posterior tibia to dorsal phlanges Plantar flexion of foot and flexion of toes
Soleus Head of fibula, posterior tibia to calcaneous Plantar flexion of foot
Gluteus maximus Sacrum/iliac crest to proximal femur (Greater Trochanter) Extends hip; Lateral rotation
Gluteus medius Iliac crest to proximal femur (Greater Trochanter) Abducts thigh
Gluteus minimus Iliac crest to proximal femur (Greater Trochanter) Abducts thigh

Hamstring muscles: Semitendinosus


Biceps femoris

Ischium to medial/proximal tibial condyles (posterior)

Ischium to Lateral Condyle Tibia/ Fibular Head

Flexes knee and extends hip. Semi's rotate legs medially, Biceps rotates laterally
Tensor fasciae Illiac crest to fascia of thigh Abducts, flexes, and rotates thigh medially; Supports lateral knee through tensing fascia of lateral leg
Gracilis Lower pubic symphysis to medial tibia (condyle) Adducts thigh, flexes and rotates leg medially at knee
Tibialis posterior Tibia/Fibula to dorsal Tarsal/Metatarsal of the foot Plantarflexion
Tibialis anterior Proximal tibia, lateral condyle ventral Tarsal/Metatarsal of the foot Dorsiflexes and inverts foot