Rotatores and Multifidi – Functional Anatomy

Multifidi and Rotatores

Multifidi and rotatores form a thick band of muscle that fills the lamina groove. They connect the transverse process of a vertebra to the vertebrae above it. The shortest strand is the deepest. As the strands lengthen to span more vertebrae, they become more superficial.

Rotatores:

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

 Wikipedia entry for rotatores


Multifidi:

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 trapping vertebrae between the attachments.

They, in combination with the rotatores, are seen as stabilizing vertebrae in relation to 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.

They are innervated by the posterior rami of spinal nerves.

Multifidi attachments vary slightly in different sections of the spine.

Cervical:

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 with single strands that only skip over one vertebra.

Thoracic:

Origin – transverse process

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


Lumbar:

Origin – mamillary process

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

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

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


This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.


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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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