Connection lost. Please refresh the page.
Get help How to study Login Register

Superficial muscles of the back

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Identify the superficial muscles of the back.
  2. Locate the attachments of each muscle.
  3. Describe the innervation of each muscle.
  4. Discover the various functions of each superficial back muscle.

Watch videos

The superficial muscles of the back are located beneath the skin and superficial fascia of the back and extend between the vertebral column and bones of the pectoral girdle and arm. Their principal function is to support and move the upper limb through movement of the scapula and humerus.

They are divided into two different parts consisting of a:

  • Superficial layer: trapezius, latissimus dorsi, levator scapulae, rhomboid major and minor muscles
  • Intermediate layer: serratus posterior superior and inferior muscles

Each muscle has its individual attachment points, innervation and function. All this might seem a lot to memorize. However, don't stress, the following video will give you a comprehensive overview of all you should know regarding the superficial muscles of the back. You’ve got this!

Take a quiz

Would you like to reinforce your knowledge of the superficial back muscles? Test yourself with the following quizzes.

If you want to broaden your knowledge on this topic, try out this customized quiz about the back.

Browse atlas

Take a closer look at the superficial muscles of the back in the gallery below.


Key points about the superficial muscles of the back
Superficial layer Trapezius muscle: descending, transverse, ascending parts
Latissimus dorsi muscle
Levator scapulae muscle
Rhomboid major muscle
Rhomboid minor muscle
Intermediate layer Serratus posterior superior muscle
Serratus posterior inferior muscle
Innervation Superficial layer: Anterior rami of spinal nerve C3-C8 (+ accessory nerve (CN XI) for trapezius)
Intermediate layer: 2nd-5th, 9th-11th intercostal nerves, subcostal nerve

Well done!

Related articles

Continue your learning

Register now and grab your free ultimate anatomy study guide!