The scalene muscles are three paired muscles of the neck, located in the front on either side of the throat, just lateral to the sternocleidomastoid. There is an anterior scalene (scalenus anterior), a medial scalene (scalenus medius), and a posterior scalene (scalenus posterior). They derive their name from the Greek word skalenos and the later Latin scalenus meaning "uneven", similar to the scalene triangle in mathematics, which has all sides of unequal length. These muscles not only have different lengths but also considerable variety in their attachments and fiber arrangements. As you will see from the descriptions below, these muscles are in a very crowded place and are related to many important structures such as nerves and arteries that run through the neck.
The proper names for the muscles we call the rhomboids are Rhomboideus Major and Minor or the Rhomboidei. Although two different muscles, they are very difficult to distinguish from one another and perform the same actions together. They run obliquely downward from the spine to the inner edge of the scapula, on each side of the middle back and connect the vertebra in that area to the medial border of the scapula. They are largely covered by the more superficial trapezius muscle.
Continue Reading » Rhomboid Major and Minor Muscles: Location, Actions, and Trigger Points
The trapezius is a three part (tripartite) muscle of the upper back extending from the base of the skull all the way to the lower thoracic spine and laterally from the clavicle to the entire length of the spine of the scapula. Together the two trapezii form a diamond or kite-shaped trapezoid from which the muscle derives its name.
Continue Reading » Trapezius Muscle: Location, Actions, and Trigger Points
The levator scapulae is a muscle located on each side of the neck, situated posteriorly1. It is named for its action in elevating or "lifting" the scapula and the word levator is the latin word for "to lift". This muscle is like the over-worked back-stage prop guy of the neck. Always in the shadow of the large sternocleidomastoid and hardly ever getting a moments rest.
Along with the trapezius, the levator scapulae works to shrug the shoulders by its raising of the medial margin of the scapula. If the scapula are fixed the muscles assist in cervical extension and if used alone flex the neck laterally to one side.
Continue Reading » Levator Scapulae Muscle: Location, Actions, and Trigger Points