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Latissimus dorsi



General information

  • This section is strictly limited to anatomy, you might be looking for clinical relevant information which is found under the clinical chapters -- muscles section, click here to go to that page


  • Superficial


  • Processus spinosi Th7-L5
  • Posterior sacrum
  • Posterior crista iliaca
    • Posterior iliac crest medial 1/3
  • 9-12. ribs
  • Angulus inferior scapula
    • Note! All these origins are attached via the thoracolumbar fascia


  • Crista tuberculi minoris humeri

Main function

  • Shoulder
    • Medial rotation
    • Adduction
    • Extension
  • Pelvis
    • Anterior tilt

Secondary function

  • Pelvis
    • Elevation
  • Scapula
    • Depression
  • Back
    • Lateral deviation
    • Contralateral rotation

Nerve innervation

  • Segmental
    • C6-C8
  • Peripheral
    • Thoracodorsal nerve

Arterial supply

  • Thoracodorsal artery


  • Patient position
    • Standing
  • Stand in front of the patient and have the patient put their arm on your shoulder
  • Place your palm against the posterior side of the patient armpit
  • Have the patient adduct and extend the arm while you feel for contraction in the muscle

Muscle length test

  • Patient position
    • Supine
  • Note! This test is also testing teres major, rhomboideus major and minor, as well as the latissimus dorsi
  • Patient is resting with the arms at the side of the body and hips in flexion so that the soles of the feet are in contact with the bench
  • Have the patient lift both arms over their head, upper arm are held so that they are close to the head
    • Make sure that the flat of the back is in contact with the bench, so that it is not tilted away from the bench
  • Normal length is achieved if the patient is able to keep the arms in line with the bench (in extension) while the upper arms are helt close to the head

Strength test

  • Patient position
    • Prone
  • The therapist places one hand on the lateral aspect of the pelvis to give contrapressure
  • The patient is asked to hold the arm straight along side of the body while he/she medial rotates the arm so that the palm of the hand is turned in towards the of the body
  • The patient should then lift the arm somewhat into extension so that it is not resting on the bench
  • The therapist gives pressure against the forearm in the direction of abduction and slight flexion of the arm
    • The patient gives force in the direction of adduction and extension