Human Movement Science & Functional Anatomy of the:


by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS




What’s in a name:

  • trapezius (n.) muscle over the back of the neck, 1704, from Modern Latin trapezius (musculus), masc. adjective from trapezium (see trapezium). (Etymology Online)
    • So called from the shape they form, as in tapeziod
    • trapezoid (n.) 1706, "a trapezium," from Modern Latin trapezoides, from Late Greek trapezoeides, noun use by Euclid of Greek trapezoeides "trapezium-shaped," from trapeza, literally "table" (see trapezium), + -oeides "shaped" (see -oid). Technically, a plane four-sided figure with no two sides parallel. But in English since c.1800, often confused with trapezium in its sense of "a quadrilateral figure having only two sides parallel and two not." (Etymology Online)



Attachments and Innervation:


  • Upper: External occipital protuberance, medial 1/3 of superior nuchal line, ligamentum nuchae and spinous process of the seventh cervical vertebrae  (8, 11, 18).
  • Middle: Spinous processes and interspinous ligaments of C6 through T5 (8, 11).
  • Lower: Spinous processes and interspinous ligaments of the 6th thought 12th thoracic vertebrae (11).
    • Note: the vertebrae from which the middle and lower trapezius originate varies slightly between texts, for example, the most superior attachment of the middle trap may be listed as C5, C6 or C7 and the most superior attachment of the lower trap from T5, T6 or T7. This is likely due to a lack of physical division between segments and some disagreement between which fibers contribute to which joint actions.  The origins are simply an attempt to group motor units with similar functions together. The most superior and inferior attachments of the trapezius muscle are consistent between texts - listed as the superior nuchal line and the spinous process of T12.


  • Upper: Lateral 1/3rd of the posterior clavicle, superior acromioclavicular ligament, and anterior medial margin of the acromion.
  • Middle: Medial margin of the acromion and superior lip of the sp