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Teres major muscle

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Attachments, innervation and functions of the teres major muscle.
Teres major muscle (Musculus teres major)

The teres major is a thick muscle of the shoulder joint. It spans from the inferior aspect of the scapula to the proximal part of the humeral shaft. Unlike the teres minor, the teres major muscle does not attach to the capsule of the glenohumeral joint. Thus it is not regarded as part of the rotator cuff muscles.

The main function of this muscle is to produce movements of the arm on the shoulder joint. By contracting, it pulls the humerus posteriorly (extension) and rotates it medial towards the trunk (internal rotation). Additionally, it contributes to the stabilization of the shoulder joint.

In this article, we will discuss the anatomy and function of the teres major muscle.

Key facts about the teres major muscle
Origins Inferior angle and lower part of the lateral border of the scapula
Insertions Intertubercular sulcus (medial lip) of the humerus
Innervation Lower subscapular nerve (C5-C7)
Blood supply Thoracodorsal branch of subscapular artery and posterior circumflex humeral artery
Function Extension and internal rotation of the humerus (arm)
  1. Origin and insertion
  2. Relations
  3. Innervation
  4. Blood supply
  5. Function
  6. Clinical aspects
  7. Sources
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Origin and insertion

The teres major muscle originates from the posterior surface of the inferior angle of scapula, as well as from the lower part of the lateral border of the scapula. At its origin, the muscle is easily palpated and felt like a soft tissue structure on the inferior scapular angle.

The muscle fibers course spirally (torsion), running parallel to the fibers of the latissimus dorsi muscle. They converge onto a single tendon that inserts to the intertubercular sulcus (medial lip) of the humerus.


The posterior aspect of the scapular portion of teres major is covered by the teres minor and infraspinatus muscles. The anterior aspect of teres major is in relation with the subscapularis muscle.

The inferior margin of teres major is parallel to the superior border of the latissimus dorsi muscle. The adjoining fibers of these two muscles may be fused in some individuals. Along with the teres minor muscle, teres major forms the posterior axillary fold. Sometimes their muscle bellies or insertion tendons even blend with one another.

Test your knowledge on the teres major muscle and other muscles of the arm and shoulder with our interactive quiz!


The innervation of the teres major muscle is supplied by the lower subscapular nerve (C5-C7) a branch of the brachial plexus.

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Blood supply

The teres major muscle is vascularized by the thoracodorsal branch of the subscapular artery and the posterior circumflex humeral artery.


The main function of teres major is to produce the movements of the humerus at the glenohumeral joint; it pulls the anterior surface of the humerus medially towards the trunk (internal rotation). Furthermore, it can extend the arm from the flexed position.

Along with the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi muscles, teres major can pull the trunk superiorly (through adduction) when its humeral attachment is fixed. This is why it is also referred to as the climbing muscle. Additionally, it contributes to the stabilization of the shoulder joint. 

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