Teres major muscle

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"Teres major" redirects here. For the beef cut, see shoulder tender.
Teres major muscle
Teres major.PNG
Posterior view showing the relations between teres major muscle (in red) and the other muscles connecting the upper extremity to the vertebral column.
Teres major muscle back.png
Teres major muscle (in red) seen from back.
Origin Posterior aspect of the inferior angle of the scapula
Insertion Medial lip of the intertubercular sulcus of the humerus
Artery Subscapular and circumflex scapular arteries
Nerve Lower subscapular nerve (segmental levels C5 and C6)
Actions adduct the humerus, Internal rotation (medial rotation) of the humerus, extend the humerus from flexed position, Protracts scapula, Depress shoulder
Latin Musculus teres major
TA A04.6.02.011
FMA 32549
Anatomical terms of muscle

The teres major muscle (Latin teres meaning 'rounded') is a muscle of the upper limb. It attaches to the scapula and the humerus and is one of the seven scapulohumeral muscles. It is a thick but somewhat flattened muscle.

The teres major muscle is positioned superior to the latissimus dorsi muscle and assists in the extension and medial rotation of the humerus. This muscle is commonly confused as a rotator cuff muscle, but it is not because it does not attach to the capsule of the shoulder joint, unlike the teres minor muscle for example.


The teres major muscle originates on the dorsal surface of the inferior angle and the lower part of the lateral border of the scapula.

The fibers of teres major insert into the medial lip of the intertubercular sulcus of the humerus.

It is supplied primarily by the lower subscapular nerve and additionally by the thoracodorsal nerve (middle subscapular nerve). These are distal to the upper subscapular nerve. These three nerves branch off the posterior cord of the brachial plexus. The nerves that innervate teres major consist of fibers from spinal nerves C5-C8.


The tendon, at its insertion, lies behind that of the latissimus dorsi, from which it is separated by a bursa, the two tendons being, however, united along their lower borders for a short distance. The fibers of these two muscles run parallel to each other and both muscles insert at the crest of the lesser tubercle of the humerus (also described as the medial lip of the intertubercular sulcus).

Together with teres minor muscle, teres major muscle forms the axillary space, through which several important arteries and veins pass.


The teres major is a medial rotator and adductor of the humerus and assists the latissimus dorsi in drawing the previously raised humerus downwards and backwards (extension, but not hyper extension). It also helps stabilise the humeral head in the glenoid cavity.


Activities that could cause injury to the teres major are rowing, throwing or pitching a ball, swimming, chopping wood, or exercise that requires pulling up (chin up) or pushing down (push ups) with the arms.

Additional images[edit]

See also[edit]

This article uses anatomical terminology; for an overview, see Anatomical terminology.


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

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