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Extrinsic Back Muscles – Functional Anatomy



  • posterior axial skeleton


  • scapula
  • upper humerus


  • retract the scapula
  • depress & elevate the scapula
  • Rotate the scapula upward and downward
  • assists in labored breathing


  • posterior rami
  • spinal accessory nerve

Labored Breathing

In labored breathing, extrinsic back muscles stabilize and retract the scapula. This allows the deep extrinsic chest muscles to expand the rib cage and increase breathing capacity.

Anomalies, Etc.

Extrinsic back muscles are typically less variant than other muscles. However, the levator scapula muscle has a high percentage of variability. For more information, look at the detailed anatomy post on each muscle.

The Extrinsic Back Muscles

These posts on anatomy contain information about the origin, insertion, function, and innervation of muscles. They also include information on functional considerations and anomalies.

This is also the place to find all posts related to these anatomical structures. Those related posts include treatment routines and associated posts related to a bone, ligament, etc.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.

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