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Rotatores and Multifidi – Functional Anatomy

Multifidi and Rotatores

Multifidi and rotatores form a thick band of muscles that fill the lamina groove. They connect the proximal transverse process of a vertebra to the spinous process of the vertebrae above it.

The shortest strand is the deepest. As the strands lengthen to span more vertebrae, they become more superficial. This forms a thick web of guy wires that allow vertebrae to move in relationship to each other.


Rotatores are the deepest muscles in the lamina groove. Rotatores connect the transverse process of a vertebra to the spinous processes of the spinous process of the two vertebrae just above it.

 Wikipedia entry for rotatores


Multifidi lay just on top of the rotatores.  Multifidi connect from the transverse process of a vertebra to the spinous processes of the vertebrae 3-5 segments higher. This configuration traps vertebrae between the attachments.

In combination with the rotatores, they are seen as stabilizing a vertebra with the 5 or 6 vertebrae above it.

Rotatores lay under the multifidi, and semispinalis muscles lay above the multifidi, but the bulk of muscle in the lamina groove is made of the multifidi.

The posterior rami of spinal nerves innervate these small muscles.

Attachments by spinal section

Multifidi attachments vary slightly in different sections of the spine.


Origin – articular process (of the lower four vertebrae)

Insertion – transverse process of the vertebrae 2-4 segments above, up to the axis

There are exceptions to the typical multifidi structure, and cervical multifidi are included. They originate on C5-C7 and insert on C2-C5, leaving some single strands that only skip over one vertebra.


Origin – transverse process

Insertion – the spinous process of the vertebrae 3-5 vertebrae above the origin


Origin – mamillary process

Insertion – spinous process of the vertebrae 3-5 segments above the origin

The lumbar multifidi form a thick pillar of muscle in the low back. They continue onto the sacrum below.

Studies report that the lumbosacral multifidi, especially below L3, atrophy much faster than most muscles with age, starting in the late 30s.

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