Anatomy: Palpation List Term2





What to do

What to say

Mastoid process p.199


    Locate the mastoid process by placing your finger behind the ear lobe.  Sculpt around its edges, exploring the entire surface.

    The bone should feel round and superficial.

    You can palpate posteriorly onto the superior nuchal line of the occiput.



    The mastoid process forms a larger, superficial bump directly behind the ear lobe. 

    It is an attachment site for the sternocleidomastoid, longissimuss capitis, and splenius capitis muscles. (check accuracy)






Styloid process p.199

    Palpate btwn the mastoid process and the posterior edge of the mandible.

    It is deep to overlying muscles and it is NOT directly palpable.

    Explore gently.

    The styloid process is located behind the ear lobe bwtn the mastoid process and the posterior edge of the mandible. 

    Its fanglike shape serves as an attachment site for several ligaments and muscles including

    It is deep to overlying muscles and tissue and is not directly palpable; however, its location can be accessed.

    The styloid process of the temporal bone is fragile and is deep to the facial nerve, so exploration in this area should be very gentle.


Zygomatic arch p.199


    Locate the mastoid process by placing finger behind the ear lobe. 

    Explore the zygomatic arch by placing your finger anterior to the ear canal.  Mover anteriorly along the arch, outlining its sides with your thumb and finger. (diagram)  Follow it anteriorly as it merges with the orbit of the eye.

    The ridge of the arch should run horizontal and it should be level with the ear canal.

    Use thumb and index finger to trace and pinch the bone

    The superficial zygomatic arch forms the cheekbone.

    It is composed by the temporal and zygomatic bones.

    It is an attachment site for the masseter muscle.

    The space btwn the zygomatic arch and the cranium is filled by the thick temporalis muscle.





Angle of the mandible p.201-202


    Slide posteriorly along the base of the mandible to the angle.  Clarify your location by asking your partner to open his mouth and noting the movement of the angle.

    Slide superiorly from the angle

    Trace along the base of the mandible until you reach the angle.




    The superficial angle of the mandible is located at the posterior end of the base jaw line.

    It forms part of the attachment for the masseter.

Condyle of the mandible p.201-202


    Place your fingerpad anterior to the ear canal and below the zygomatic arch.

    Ask your partner to open his mouth fully and slowly.  With this action, the condyle will become more palpable as it slides anteriorly and inferiorly.

    (hint: You should be anterior to the ear canal, below the zygomatic arch. As your partner opens his mouth, you should be able to palpate both condyles simultaneously.)

    This is one of the 2 temporomandibular joints which articulates the mandible with the cranium.

    The superficial condyle is located just anterior to the ear canal and inferior to the zygomatic arch. 

    The deeper, inaccessible head of the condyle forms the articulating surface of the mandible at the temporomandibular joint.

    The condyle is not conguent with its articulating surface.  As such, there is a lifesaver-shaped disc which lies on top of the condyle which helps to create more congruity bwtn the joint surfaces, reducing the potential for bone deterioration.

Ramus of the mandible p.201-202

    Slide superiorly from the angle onto the ramus which is deep to the masseter muscle.






    The flat ramus is the posterior, vertical portion of the mandible and is deep to the masseter.

Coronoid process of the mandible



    Place your fingerpad on the middle aspect of the zygomatic arch.

    Drop half an inch inferiorly and ask your partner to open her mouth fully.  As the jaw drops, the large process will press into your finger. (diagram p.202)

    With the mouth still open, explore the surfaces of the process.

    (hint: You should be inferior to the zygomatic arch. When the mouth is open, you should feel the anterior edge of the process.)








    The coronoid process is located an inch anterior to the condyle of the mandible and is the attachment site of the temporalis muscle.  When the jaw is closed, the coronoid process lies underneath the zygomatic arch and is inaccessible.  Opening the mouth fully, however, will bring the coronoid process out from under the arch and allow the process to be accessed.

    (try and find any other m. attachments to this process)

Digastric p.214


    Partner supine with practitioner at head of table. Locate the mastoid process of the temporal bone and the hyoid bone (see hyoid section below)

    Draw an imaginary line between these points.  Using your index finger, palpate along this line for the skinny, posterior digastric (diagram p.215)

    Draw an imaginary line bwtn the hyoid bone to the underside of the chin and palpate for its anterior belly.

    To feel the digastric contract, place your finger under the chin and ask your partner to try to open her mough against your gentle resistance. This contraction will sometimes allow both of the digastric bellies to be located more easily.

    (hint: the muscle should be superficial and pencil-width.  It should extend from the mastoid process to the hyoid bone to the chin.)



    The long, round digastric muscle is composed of a posterior and an anterior belly.  The posterior belly runs from the mastoid process to the hyoid bone and then loops through a tendinous sling on the hyoids anterior surface.  It continues on as the anterior belly to attach at the underside of the chin. (diagram p214)

    Both bellies are superficial, yet difficult to distinguish from the deeper suprahyoid muscles.

    (activation:  depress your jaw  or  swallow)

    S.A. :  inferior border of mandible near symphysis

    I. A.  :  intermediate tendon to hyoid

    A : (1) elevates and pulls hyoid anteriorly;  (2) assists in depressing mandible (I.A. fixed)

Hyoid p.203


    Supine or seated.  Place your index finger upon the thyroid cartilage (place fingers on Adams Apple, then ask your partner to swallow, you will feel it move up and down.)

    Roll your fingerpad superiorly over the thyroid cartilage and onto the hyoid.

    Then gently palpate the sides of the hyoid with your first finger and thumb. (diagram) The hyoid will be wider than the trachea.

    Using gentle pressure, explore the surface of the hyoid as well as its small side to side movements. 

    If you have difficulty accessing the hyoid, ecourage your partner to relax her tongue and jaw.

    Hint: you should be superior to they thyroid cartilage. You should be able to move the hyoid from side to side.

    With your first finger and thumb on either side of the hyoid, ask your partner to swallow.  You should be able to feel the hyoid rise up and then return. (diagram)

    The hyoid bone is horse-shoe shaped.

    Located superior to the thyroid cartilage. 

    It is roughly an inch in diameter and lies parallel to the base of the mandible (jaw line) and the 3rd and 4th cervical vertebra.

    It serves as an attachment site for the supra and infrahyoid muscles.  It is accessible and elevates upon swallowing.

Sternocleidomastoid p.207



    Supine with practitioner at head of table. Locate the mastoid process of the temporal bone, the medial clavicle and the top of the sternum.

    Draw a line btwn these landmarks to delineate the location of the muscle. Note how both sides form the V on the front of neck.

    Ask your partner to raise her head very slightly off the table as you palpate the muscle. (diagram 208)  It will usually protrude visibly.  (To make the muscle more distinct, rotate the head slightly to the opposite side and then ask her to flex her neck.)

    Palpate along the borders of the muscle, follow it behind the ear lobe, and then down to the clavicle and sternum (diagram 208).  Sculpt around the skinny sternal tendon and the wider clavicular tendon.

    (hint: With your partner relaxed, you can grasp the muscle btwn your fingers and outline its thickness and shape.  There should be aprox. 2-3 inches btwn the clavicular attachments of the muscle and the trapezius.)


    The sternocleidomastoid is located on the lateral and anterior aspect of the neck.  It has a large belly with 2 heads: a flat, clavicular head and a slender, sternal head. (diagram p.207) 

    Both heads merge to attach behind the ear at the mastoid process. 

    The carotid artery passes deep and medial to it;

    The external jugular lies superficial to it.

    The sternocleidomastoid is superficial, completely accessible and often visible when the head is turned to the side in Lord Byron-like fashion (diagram 207)

    (action: flex your neck  or  inhale deeply)

    S.A. :  mastoid process

    I. A :  sternum, clavicle

    A : Bilateral:

    (1) extends the head if the head is extended

    (2) flexes the head and neck if the head is erect or flexed.

    (3) stabilizes the head (with the trapezius) during movements of the mandible (ie, talking, eating)

    (4) accessory muscle of inspiration

    A:  Unilateral 

    (The same cranial nerve innervates the upper traps and SCM, so their actions will be similar.)

    (1) contralateral rotation

    (2) ipsilateral flexion

Temporalis p.213



    Supine with practitioner at head of table. Locate the zygomatic arch.

    Place your fingerpads 1 inch superio to the arch and ask your partner to alternately clench and relax jaw.  You should feel the strong temporalis contracting beneath your fingers. (diagram213)

    To locate the attachment site of the temporalis tendon, ask partner to open her mouth wide.

    Locate and explore the coronoid process (diagram213).  Although the coronoid process is easily accessed, you may not be able to isolate the tendon of the temporalis.

    To outline the wide origin of the temporalis, place your fingers in various positions on the side of the head and ask your partner to alternately clench and relax her jaw.  If your fingers are on the muscle, you will feel the temporalis fibers tighten and soften.  If you are off the muscle, you will not feel anything.

    (hint: you should be superior to the zygomatic arch on the side of the head.  Try to discern the muscle fiber direction and feel them converge.)

    The temporalis muscle is located on the temporal aspect of the cranium.  Its broad origin attaches to the frontal, temporal, and parietal bones. (diagram213)

    Its fibers converge into a thick mass, reaching under the zygomatic arch to connect at the coronoid process. 

    Though deep to the temporal fascia and artery, the temporalis is superficial and directly accessible.

    (activation: clench your jaw)


    Origin:  temporal fossa and fascia

    Insertion: coronoid process of the mandible

    Action: (1) elevates the mandible

    (2) retracts the mandible

Masseter p.212



    Supine.  Locate the zygomatic arch and angle of the mandible.

    Place your fingers btwn these bony landmarks and palpate the surface of the masseter.

    Ask your partner to alternately clench and relax jaw as you sculpt out the square shape of the belly (diagram212)

    Clarify the masseters fiber direction by strumming your fingers horizontally across its muscle fibers.

    Now ask your partner to relax and try grasping the chunky bellies of the masseter. (diagram212)

    (hint: as your partner clenches, you should be able to outline the anterior edge of the masseter.  If your partner opens her jaw as wide as possible, you can feel the tissue lengthen.)

    The masseter is the strongest muscle in the body relative to its size.  The two masseters together exert a biting force of nearly 150 pounds of pressure enough to bite off a finger!  The masseter is the primary chewing muscle and is used in speaking and swallowing.

    Located on the side of the mandible, the square-shaped masseter is composed of 2 overlapping bellies.  The superficial belly can be accessed from the face. (diagram212);  the deep belly is palpable from inside the mouth (diagram212).  The masseter is situated deep to the parotid gland (diagram212) yet is easily palpable.

    (activation: clench your jaw)


    O: zygomatic arch

    I: angle and ramus of mandible

    A: elevates the mandible (temporomandibular joint)

Middle scalene p.208-211


    Supine, with practitioner at head of table.  Cradle the head (passively flexing it) to allow for easier palpation.

    Place your fingerpads along the anterior and lateral sides of the neck btwn the sternocleidomastoid and trapezius.

    With the pads of your fingers, use gentle pressure to palpate the stringy, superficial bellies in this triangle.

    (hint: make sure you are bwtn the sternocleidomastoid and the trapezius). 

    Ask your partner to inhale deeply into her upper chest.  As she fully inhales, do you feel the muscles in this triangle contract? (diagram210)

    Rotate the head slightly to the opposite side to better expose it. 

    Gently palpate under the sternocleidomastoids lateral edge and roll past the belly of the anterior scalene.

    Move laterally to explore the middle scalene, noting its similarly shaped belly.

    (hint: the muscle should have a slender stringy texture.  If you follow it inferiorly, they should sink beneath the clavicle in the direction of the ribs. 

    You can follow them superiorly to the transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae. 

    Ask your partner to flex her head slightly and you should feel the scalenes contract.

    The middle scalene (all 3) are sandwiched bwtn the sternocleidomastoid and the anterior flap of the trapezius on the anterior, lateral neck. 

    Their fibers begin at the side of the cervical vertebrae, dive underneath the clavicle, and attach to the first and second ribs. (diagram208)

    During normal inhalation, the scalenes perform the vital task of elevating the upper ribs. 

    The middle scalene is slightly larger than the anterior scalene and lies lateral to it.  The muscle belly is fully accessible.

    (activation: inhale into your upper chest  or  flex your neck)


    O: TVP of 2nd to 7th cervical vertebrae (posterior tubercles)

    I: 1st rib

    A: Bilateral

    (1) elevates the ribs during inhalation (All)

    (2) flex the neck (anterior)


    (1) With the ribs fixed, laterally flex the neck to the same side. (All)

    (2) Rotate head and neck to the opposite side (All)


























Bicipital groove aka intertubercular groove p.63


    Place your thumb on the greater tubercle (diagram63)

    Begin to rotate the arm laterally.  As the humerus rotates, the greater tubercle will move out from under your thumb and be replaced by the slender ditch of the intertubercular groove.

    As you continue to laterally rotate, your thumb will rise out of the groove onto the lesser tubercle.

    After placing thumb on the greater tubercle, try passively rotating the arm medially and laterally.  You should feel the bump-ditch-bump sequence as the 3 landmarks (greater tubercle-bicipital groove-lesser tubercle) pass beneath your thumb.

       Make sure you are horizontal to the level of the coracoid process.


    The bicipital groove aka intertubercular groove, is situated btwn the greater and lesser tubercles, and is roughly a pencils width in diameter. 

    Within the groove lies the tendon of the long head of the biceps brachii, which can be tender, requiring a gentle touch

Coracobrachialis p.92


    Supine.  Laterally rotate and abduct the shoulder to 45 degrees.  Locate the fibers of the pectoralis major.  This tissue forms the axillas anterior wall and will be a good reference point for locating coracobrachialis.

    Lay one hand along the medial side of the arm and move your fingerpads into the armpit.

    Have your partner horizontally adduct gently against your resistance (diagram92)

    Isolate the solid edge of the pectoralis major then slide off its fibers posteriorly (into the axilla) and explore for the slender contracting belly of coracobrachialis. 

    Its belly may be visible upon adduction.

    Make sure the muscle you are palpating is on the medial side of the upper arm. 

    Make sure its belly lie posterior to the overlying flap of the pectoralis major and that you can strum along its cylindrical belly.


    The coracobrachialis is a small, tubular muscle located in the axilla.  Sometimes known as the armpit muscle.

    It is a secondary flexor and adductor of the shoulder.

    In anatomical position, the coracobrachialis is deep to the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid and lies anterior to the axillary artery and brachial plexus.

    Abducting the shoulder (opening up the axilla) brings the belly of coracobrachialis to a superficial and palpable position.

    (activation: adduct your shoulder)

    PA: coracoid process

    DA: the middle medial surface of shaft of humerus

    A: flexes and adducts GH joint (combing your hair)

Latissimus Dorsi p.69-70


    Prone with arm off side of table.  Locate the scapulas lateral border.

    Using your fingers and thumb, grasp the thick wad of muscle tissue lateral to the lateral border. This is the latissimus dorsi (and maybe some of teres major). 

    Note how this muscle tissue flairs off the side of the trunk.

    Feel the latissimus fibers contract by asking your partner to medially rotate his shoulder against your resistance.

    Swing your hand up toward your hip.

    As this occurs, follow the latissimus fibers superiorly into the axilla and inferiorly on the ribs.

    Make sure you are not just lifting the skin.  Grasp the tissue and slowly let it slip out btwn your fingers.

    Supine.  Cradling the arm in a flexed position, grasp the tissue of latissimus located beside the lateral border.

    Ask your partner to extend his shoulder against your resistance.

    Press your elbow toward your hip.  This will force the latissimus to contract. (diagram70)

    The latissimus dorsi is the broadest muscle of the back.  Its thin superficial fibers originate at the low back, ascend the side of the trunk and merge into a thick, bundle at the axilla. (diagram69).

    Both ends of the latissimus dorsi are difficult to isolate; however, its middle portion next to the lateral border of the scapula is easy to grasp.

    The latissimus dorsi and teres major are sometimes called the handcuff muscles, since their actions collectively bring the arms into the arresting position (ie: extension, adduction, medial rotation)

    The latissimus dorsi not only moves the arm, but b/c of its broad origin, can also affect the trunk and spine.

    Contraction of the left latissimus dorsi assists in lateral flexion of the trunk to the left.  If the arm is fixed, as when hanging froma bar, the latissimus dorsi will assist in extension of the spine and tilting of the pelvis anteriorly and laterally.

    (activation: extend and medially rotate your shoulder)


    MA: T6-T12 SP,  thoracolumbar fascia, iliac crest, ribs 9-12, sometimes the inferior angle of scapula

    LA: the floor (bottom surface) of the bicipital groove

    A: (MA fixed) medial rotation, extension, and adduction of GH joint. (handcuff position)

       (LA fixed) chin ups, accessory muscle to respiration              (arms at hips to ease breathing)


Teres Major p.69-70


    Prone with arm off the side of the table.

    Locate and grasp the latissimus dorsi fibers btwn your fingers and thumb.

    Move your fingers and thumb medially to where you feel the scapulas lateral border. The muscle fibers that lie medial to the latissimus and attach to the lateral border will be the teres major.

    Follow these fibers toward the axilla where they blend with the latissimus dorsi.

    (hint: lay your thumb on the inferior aspect of the lateral border and have your partner medially rotate the shoulder joint to distinguish the teres major from the latissimus dorsi (diagram70). 

    The fibers of both muscles will contract; those that attach directly to the lateral border belong to teres major; the more lateral fibers belong to latissimus dorsi.

    (hint: touch on the inferior angle)

    The teres major is called the lats little helper because it is a complete synergist with the latissimus dorsi. (diagram69) 

    It is superficial and located along the scapulas lateral border btwn the latissimus dorsi and teres minor.

    Although they share names, the teres major and teres minor rotate the arm in opposite directions the major medially, the minor laterally.

    Teres major, (along with latissimus dorsi) are sometimes called the handcuff muscles since their actions collectively bring the arms into the arresting position. (extension, adduction, and medial rotation)


    PA: inferior angle of scapula

       DA: bicipital groove, medial lip (aka crest of the lesser tubercle)

       A: adduction, extension, and medial rotation of humerus (handcuff positon)

Levator Scapula p.79-80




    Prone, supine, or sidelying.  Palpating through the trapezius, locate the superior angle of the scapula. (diagram80) and the upper region of the medial border.

    Place your fingers just off the superior angle and firmly strum across the belly of the levator.  The fibers will likely have a ropy texture.

    Follow these fibers superiorly as they extend to the lateral side of the neck to the transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae.

    Try to differentiate btwn the fibers of levator and trapezius.  Levator fibers should lead you toward the lateral side of the neck.

Alternative method:

    Locate upper fibers of trapezius

    Roll 2 fingers anteriorly off the trapezius and press into the tissue of the neck.

    Gently strum your fingers anteriorly and posteriorly across the levator fibers. (diagram80)  Often you will feel a distinct band of tissue that leads superiorly toward the lateral neck and inferiorly under the trapezius.

    Place your fingertips on the levator and ask your partner to alternately elevate and relax his scapula.

    You should feel it contract and relax beneath your fingertips.

    ***** SUPINE. Passively rotate the head 45 degrees away from the side you are palpating will shift the cervical transverse processes further anteriorly.  Also it gives the levator scapula more palpable tension.

          Conversely, this position shortens and softens the overlying trapezius fibers.

    Located along the lateral and posterior sides of the neck. Its inferior portion is deep to the upper trapezius; however, as the levator ascends the lateral side of the neck, its fibers come out from under the trapezius and become superficial. (diagram79)

    Its belly is aprox. 2 fingers wide with fibers that naturally twist around themselves.

    It attaches to the transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae. (diagram79)  Located on the lateral side of the neck, all of these small protuberances extend laterally at aprox. The same width, except for the processes of C1 which are broader.

    When accessing the processes to locate the origin of the levator scapula, begin by using your soft fingerpads to avoid compressing a brachial plexus nerve.

    The levator is completely accessible by palpating either through the upper fibers of the trapezius or directly from the side of the neck.

    The levator is situated btwn the splenius capitis and posterior scalene muscles on the lateral side of the neck.  (diagram79) 

    It can be distinguished from these neighbouring muscles during palpation b/c it moves the scapula.

    No other muscle deep to the upper trapezius or attaching to the lateral cervical vertebrae is capable of this action.

    (activation: elevate your scapula)


    SA: C1-C4 TVP

    IA: superior part of medial border of scapula

    A: (SA fixed) (1) downward rotation (medial rotation) of scapula;  (2) elevation of scapula with upper trapezius

          (IA fixed) (1) lateral flexion of neck; (2) ipsilateral rotation of neck

Serratus Anterior p.81-82


    Palpating along the sides of the ribs can tickle, so use slow, firm pressure.

    If accessing the left serratus, it may be easier to stand on the right side of the table.

    Supine. Isolate the location of the serratus by abducting the arm slightly and locating the lower edge of the pectoralis major. (diagram82)  Then locate the anterior border of the latissimus dorsi.

    Place your fingerpads along the side of the ribs btwn pec major and the lat dorsi.

    Strum your fingers across the ribs and palpate for the serratus anterior fibers.  To differentiate btwn the ribs and the serratus fibers (both have a similar speed bump shape), remember that the ribs are deep and have a solid texture while the serratus fibers are superficial and malleable.

    Or ask your partner to flex his shoulder so his fist is raised toward the ceiling.  Place one hand upon the serratus fibers and your other hand on top of his raised fist.

    Ask him to alternately abduct his scapula and relax: reach toward the ceiling and then relax.  You should fell the fibers contract and soften.  You can also follow the fibers along the ribs to where they tuck underneath the lat dorsi.

    Or turn your partner sidelying with his arm at his side.  Locate the medial border of the scapula to access the insertion of the serratus anterior. 

    Curl your fingers beneath the medial border onto the beginnings of the subscapular fossa and explore the area where the serratus attaches.

    Lies along the posterior and lateral ribcage. 

    Its oblique fibers extend from the ribs underneath the scapula and attach to its medial border.

    Most of the serratus is deep to the scapula, latissimus dorsi, or pectoralis major; however, the portion of the serratus below the axilla (armpit) is superficial and easily accessible. (diagram81)

    It is unique in its ability to abduct the scapula, making it an antagonist to the rhomboids.

    The inferior/lateral aspect of the breast covers the serratus anterior.

    It supports the weight of the trunk and stabilizes the pectoral girdle against the thorax during a push-up.

    (activation:abduct your scapula)


    PA: lateral external surfaces of 1st 9 ribs.

    DA: anterior medial border of scapula

    A: (PA fixed): (1) abduction and protraction of scapula; (2) lower fibers may depress scapula; (3) upper fibers may elevate scapula

    (DA fixed): elevates ribs and can assist in forced respiration.

          Isometrically fixed (everything fixed):  isometric stabilizes scapula (ie, prevents winging).  It holds the medial border of the scapula firmly against the thorax in a properly executed push-up.

Subscapularis p.71-74


    Sidelying.  Flex the shoulder and pull the arm anteriorly as much as possible.  This will allow easier access to the scapulas anterior surface.

    Hold the arm with one hand while the thumb of the other locates the lateral border.

    Hint: slide your thumb underneath the lat dorsi and teres major fibers instead of going through them. (diagram74)

    Slowly and gently curl your thumb onto the subscapular fossa.  You may not feel the subscapularis fibers immediately, but if your thumb is on the anterior surface of the scapula, you will be accessing a portion of the fibers.

    Hint: ask your partner to gently rotate his shoulder medially.  You can feel the subscapularis fibers contract beneath your thumb. 

       Or supine.  Cradle the arm in a flexed position and locate the lateral border.  Slowly sink your thumbpad onto the subscapular fossa, adjusting the arm and scapula as you progress. (diagram74)


    Part of the rotator cuff muscles which encompass, and stabilizes the glenohumeral joint

    The deep subscapularis is located on the scapulas anterior surface and is sandwiched btwn the subscapular fossa and the serratus anterior muscle. (diagram71) 

    With only a small portion of its muscle belly accessible, subscapularis is the only rotator cuff muscle that attaches to the humerus lesser tubercle.

    It rotates the shoulder medially

    (activation: medially rotate your shoulder)


    PA: subscapular fossa

    DA: lesser tubercle

          A: medial rotation of humerus

Upper trapezius p.67-68


    Prone.  These fibers form the easily accessible flap of muscle lying across the top of the shoulder.  Along the posterior neck they are surprisingly skinny, each being only an inch in diameter.

    Grasp the superficial tissue on the top of the shoulder and feel the upper trapezius fibers. Take note of their slender quality.

    Follow the fibers superiorly toward the base of the head at the occiput.  To feel the fibers along the posterior neck contract, stand at the head of the table and ask your partner to extend his head a quarter inch off the face cradle. Then follow the fibers inferiorly to the lateral clavicle.

    Remember: the muscle should be thin and superficial.  Grasp the fibers along the top of the shoulder and have your partner elevate his scapula gently toward his ear.  The fibers should become taut.

    The trapezius lies superficially along the upper back and neck. It has broad, thin fibers.

    Fiber direction of the upper traps is superomedial.

    The upper and lower traps are antagonists in elevation and depression of the scapula.

    Activation: elevate or depress your shoulder


    MA: (1) medial 1/3 of superior nuchal line of occiput;  (2) inion aka external occipital protuberance; (3) C2-C7 SP; (4) ligamentum nuchae (a fibroelastic band joining C7 SP to the inion and the spines of the cervical vertebrae SPs to one another.

    LA: (1) lateral ½ of clavicle; (2) acromion, medial side

    A: (MA fixed): (1) elevates scapula (with levator scapulae); (2) upward rotation of scapula

    (LA fixed): (Unilateral movements): (1) lateral flexion of neck (to ipsilateral side);  (2) contralateral rotation of neck.

          (Bilateral insertion fixed): extension of neck

Lower trapezius p.67-68


    Locate the edge of the lower fibers by drawing a line from the spine of the scapula to the spinous process of T12 (diagram68)

    Palpate along this line and push your fingers into the edge of the lower fibers.  Ask your partner to hold his arms out in front of him (like Superman) and feel for the superficial fibers of the trapezius.

    Attempt to lift the lower fibers btwn your fingers, raising it off the underlying musculature.

    Hint:  another action would be to ask your partner to depress his shoulder.  The lower fibers run at a gentle angle toward the scapula (rather than parallel with the vertebral column like the erector spinae muscles)

    Same as above.


    MA: T6-T12 SP

    LA: root of scapula aka apex of spine of scapula

    A: (MA fixed): (1) upward rotation of scapula; (2) depression of scapula with pec minor.

          (rotation is achieved thru a force couple)

Clavicular head of Pectoralis Major   p.83-84


    Caution: palpate around breast tissue, and not directly into it.

    Remember: communicate your intentions to your partner.  Encourage her to let you know if at any time she wishes to stop.

    Positioning: Supine allows easier access to the sternal and upper pectoral regions, but may crowd the axillary area. (ask her to hold her breast medially or use the back of your hand to push the tissue medially)

    In sidelying, the breast tissue will fall medially opening up the axillary region. The axilla can be opened up further by passively shifting the shoulder anteriorly. (diagram83)

    Main instructions

    Supine. With your partners shoulder slightly abducted, sit or stand facing him.

    Locate the medial shaft of the clavicle and move inferiorly onto the clavicular fibers.

    Explore the surface of the pectoralis major.  Follow the fibers laterally as they blend with the deltoid and attach at the greater tubercle.

    Grasp the belly of the pectoralis by sinking your thumb into the axilla.  Ask your partner to medially rotate his shoulder against your resistance.  Press your hand toward your belly (diagram84)  Note the contraction of the pectoralis.

    NOTE: the clavicular fibers run parallel with the anterior deltoid.  Get a sense of its thickness and how it lies across the ribcage.

    The pectoralis major is a broad, powerful muscle located on the chest.  Except for the part beneath breast tissue, its convergent, superficial fibers are accessible.

    It is divided into 3 segments the clavicular, sternal, and costal.

    The upper and lower fibers perform opposing actions at the shoulder joint flexion and extension, respectively making this muscle an antagonist to itself.

    Activation: adduct your shoulder

    NOTE: the clavicular fibers run parallel with the anterior deltoid.  Get a sense of its thickness and how it lies across the ribcage.


    MA: (clavicular fibers): medial ½ of clavicle

    LA: crest of greater tubercle aka lateral lip of bicipital groove

    A: (of the whole muscle): (1) adduction of the GH joint; (2) medial rotation of GH joint; (3) horizontal adduction aka horizontal flexion



          A: (clavicular head) flexes the humerus

Sternal head of Pectoralis Major  p.84


    Same as above, but palpate along the sternum.

    Same as above



    MA: (sternal fibers): anterior surface of sternum

    LA: crest of greater tubercle aka lateral lip of bicipital groove.

    A: extends humerus (brings it back from flexion)



Triceps p.90-91



    Prone.  Bring the arm off the side of the table and palpate the posterior aspect of the arm.  Outline the edge of the posterior deltoid and then explore the size and shape of the triceps.

    Locate the olecranon process to outline the distal tendon of the triceps.  Then ask your partner to extend his elbow as you apply resistance at his forearm. (diagram91)  Slide your other hand off the olecranon process proximally and onto the broad triceps tendon.

    With your partner still contracting, widen your fingers and palpate the medial and lateral heads on either side of the tendon.

    Hint: the muscle should tighten when your partner extends his elbow.  The medial and lateral triceps heads should bulge on either side of the distal tendon.

    The only muscle located on the posterior arm.

    It creates extension at the elbow and shoulder and is an antagonist at both these joints to the biceps brachii.

    It has 3 heads: long, lateral, and medial.

    The long head exends off the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula, weaving btwn the teres major and minor.

    The lateral head lies superficially beside the deltoid.

    The medial head lies mostly underneath the long head.

    All 3 heads converge into a thick, distal tendon proximal to the elbow.

    Aside from its proximal portion, which is deep to the deltoid, the triceps is superficial and easily accessible.


    PA: (long head): infraglenoid tubercle and neck of scapula

    (lateral head): humerus, posterior surface superior to the radial (spiral) groove.

    (medial head): humerus, posterior surface inferior to the radial (spiral) groove

    DA: olecranon

    A: (whole muscle): extension at the elbow joint

          (long head): extends GH joint (weak)

Tendon of the long head of triceps brachii p.91


    Prone.  Place one hand on the proximal elbow and ask your partner to bring his elbow toward the ceiling against your resistance.  This action will contract the long head of the triceps.

    Locate its belly along the proximal and medial aspects of the arm.  Follow the muscle proximally by strumming across the belly.  Note how it disappears underneath the posterior deltoid toward the infraglenoid tubercle.

    With the arm relaxed, press through the posterior deltoid and strum across its skinny tendon as it attaches to the infraglenoid tubercle.

    Hint: the long head of the triceps crosses over the teres major and under the teres minor.  You can follow the long head up to the division f the teres muscles. 

    Have your partner medially and laterally rotate his shoulder to differentiate the teres muscles. (diagram91)

    Hint: it is the only band of muscle on the posterior arm that runs superiorly along the proximal and medial aspect of the arm.  The deltoid fibers run at a more diagonal direction than the long head of the triceps.


          See above for attachments.



Head of radius p.108


    Shake hands and locate the lateral epicondyle.

    Slide distally off the epicondyle, across the small ditch btwn the humerus and radius and onto the head of the radius. (diagram108)

    The head of the radius is the only bony structure in this vicinity.  Explore its ring-shaped, superficial surface.

    You should be distal to the lateral epicondyle.  Place your thumb on the head and, with your other hand, slowly supinate and pronate the forearm. (diagram108) 

    You should be able to feel the heads rotating movement under your thumb.




    The head of the radius is distal to the humerus lateral epicondyle. 

    It forms the radius proximal end and has a circular, bell shape.

    The head is stabilized by the annular ligament and is a pivoting point for supination and pronation of the forearm.

    Although it is deep to the supinator and extensor muscles, the heads posterior, lateral aspect can be accessed.


Head of the Ulna p.107


    Slide your fingers distally along the ulnar shaft.

    Just proximal to the wrist, the shaft will bulge to become the head of the ulna.  Palpate all sides of the bulbous head. (diagram107)

    The knob you are palpating should be connected to the shaft of the ulna. 

    In a neutral position, it should be on the posterior and medial side of the forearm.

    The shaft of the ulna swells to form the head of the ulna. 

    The head is the superficial knob visible along the posterior, medial side of the wrist that can disrupt the placement of a watchband.


Lunate and Capitate p.115


    Locate Listers tubercle and the base of the 3rd metacarpal.  With the wrist sligthly extended, lay your thumb btwn these points and notice how it falls into a small cavity.  This is the location of the lunate and capitate. (diagram115)

    Set your thumb at the proximal end of this cavity.  Then flex the wrist and feel the lunate press into your finger (diagram115). 

    Next, extend the wrist and feel this carpal disappear back into the wrist.

    Shift your thumb to the distal end of the cavity and notice how it bumps into the base of the 3rd metacarpal.

    Passively flex the wrist, noting how the capitate rolls into your finger, filling its own cavity.

    You should be btwn the Listers Tubercle and the shaft of the 3rd metacarpal. 

    To isolate the Lunate, you should be just distal to the edge of Listers Tubercle. 

    You should feel a small knob press into your thumb upon flexion.

    The lunate is the most frequently dislocated carpal.

    Located just distal to Listers Tubercle, it is relatively inaccessible when the wrist is in a neutral position; flexing the wrist, however, will slide the lunate to the dorsal surface.

    It is accessible on the dorsal surface and can be isolated btwn Listers Tubercle and the shaft of the 3rd metacarpal.

Scaphoid p.113


    Beginning on the wrists radial surface, locate the radius styloid process. 

    Slide your thumb distally off the process, falling btwn the superficial tendons and into the natural ditch where the scaphoid will be found. (diagram)

    Maintain your position and passively adduct the wrist.  As you do so, feel for the scaphoid to bulge into your thumb. (diagram)  Now abduct the wrist and feel how the scaphoid disappears back into the wrist.

    From here, explore the scaphoids dorsal and palmar surfaces.  On the palmar surface, along the flexor crease, is the scapoid tubercle. (diagram)

    You should be distal to the end of the styloid process of the radius.

       During adduction and abduction, you can feel the scapoid protrude and then disappear.


    The peanut-shaped scaphoid (aka navicular) is the most commonly fractured carpal.

    It is located on the radial side of the hand, distal to the styloid process of the radius.

    Although it forms the floor of the tendinous anatomical snuffbox,it is still accessible from the dorsal, palmar, and ulnar sides of the wrist.

Pisiform p.111


    Locate the flexor crease of the wrist.  Then slide over to the pinky side of the crease.

    Move slightly distal to the crease, rolling your thumbpad in small circles.  Explore under the thick tissue of the palm for the nuggetlike pisiform. (diagram)

    Passively flex the wrist and notice how the pisiform can be wiggled from side to side. (diagram) 

    Extend the wrist and observe how it becomes immobile.  (this immobility is due to the tension created by the flexor carpi ulnaris tendon.)

    Then, ask your partner to actively adduct her wrist.  You should feel the tendon of flexor carpi ulnaris as it comes down the medial wrist and attach to the pisiform.

    The knobby pisiform is an attachment site for the flexor carpi ulnaris.  Protruding along the ulnar/palmar surface of the wrist, the pisiform is just distal to the flexor crease.

Hook of Hamate p.112


    Locate the pisiform.  Draw an imaginary line from the pisiform to the base of the 1st finger. (diagram)

    Using your thumbpad, slide off the pisiform along this line. (diagram)  Approximately half of an inch from the pisiform, explore for this subtle mound beneath the padding of the hand.

    You should be btwn the pisiform and the base of the 1st finger.

    Using gentle pressure, you should sense a small ditch btwn the pisiform and the hamates hook.

    Keeping your thumbpad in place and rolling it gently around the hook will give you the best sense of its shape and locale.

    Located distal and lateral to the pisiform, the hamate has a small protuberance or hook, that is palpable on the hands palmar surface.

    The pisiform and the hook of hamate serve as attachment sites for the flexor retinaculum, the CT band that forms the roof of the carparl tunnel.

    The flat surface of the hamates body is accessible on the hands dorsal surface where the bases of the 4th and 5th metacarpals merge.  When palpated, the hook is often tender.

    The pisiform and hook of hamate form a small channed called the Tunnel of Guyon.

Brachialis p.120


    Shake hands with your partner and flex the elbow to 90degrees.  It is important to distinguish the muscle tissue of the biceps brachii from that of the brachialis.  Ask your partner to flex her elbow against your resistance and isolate the edges of the round biceps brachii belly.

    With the arm relaxed, slide laterally half an inch off the distal biceps.  The edge of the brachialis can be detected by rolling your fingers across its surface.  As you strum across its solid edge, you will feel a pronounced thump. (diagram)

    Continuing to strum across its edge, follow it distally to where it disappears into the elbow.

    Locate the distal biceps tendon.  Palpate along either side of the tendon for portions of the deeper brachialis. (diagram)

    You should be rolling across a distinct wad of muscle on the lateral side of the arm and be able to follow it distally toward the inner elbow.

    Locate the triceps and biceps brachii.  The brachialis fibers should be btwn them on the lateral arm.

    Alternatively locate the deltoid tuberosity.  Slide distally straight down the lateral side of the arm and explore for the edge of the brachialis.

    (activation: flex your elbow)

    The brachialis is a strong elbow flexor that lies deep to the biceps brachii on the anterior arm.

    It has a flat, yet thick belly.

    Ironically, its girth only helps the biceps to bulge further from the arm, making it the biceps best friend.

    Although it lies underneath the biceps, portions of brachialis are accessible.  Its lateral edge, sandwiched btwn the biceps and triceps brachii, is both superficial and palpable.  The distal aspect of the brachialis is also accessible as it passes along either side of the biceps tendon.


    PA: distal ½ of the anterior surface of humerus

    DA: ulnar tuberosity and coronoid process

          A: forearm flexion

Brachioradialis p.121


    Shake hands with your partner and flex the elbow to 90 degrees.  With the forearm in a neutral position (thumb toward the ceiling), ask your partner to flex her elbow against your resistance.

    Look for the brachioradialus bulging out on the lateral side of the elbow.  If it is not visible, locate the lateral supracondylar ridge of the humerus and slide distally.

    With your partner still contracting, use your other hand to palpate its superficial, tubular belly. (diagram)  Try to pinch its belly btwn your fingers and follow it as far distally as possible.  As it becomes more tendinous, strum across its distal tendon toward the styloid process of the radius.

    Upon resisted flexion of the elbow, the belly should contract and bulge out.  It should be superficial and extend off the lateral epicondyle of the humerus.

    The brachioradialis is superficial on the lateral side of the forearm. 

    It has a long, oval belly which forms a helpful dividing line btwn the flexors and extensors of the wrist and hand. 

    Its muscle belly becomes tendinous halfway down the forearm. It

    It is the only muscle that runs the length of the forearm but does not cross the wrist joint.

    Resisted flexion of the elbow causes it to visibly protrude on the forearm and become easily palpable.

    (activation: flex your elbow against my resistance)



    PA: it forms the main fleshy mass of the radial aka lateral border of the forearm. 

    Proximal lateral supracondylar ridge of humerus.

    DA: lateral distal end of radius (styloid process)

          A: (1) most effective in neutral aka mid-prone position (ie, hand shaking, beer drinking); (2) flexes forearm

Extensor pollicis longus p.135-138


    With the wrist in a neutral position, ask your partner to extend her thumb: Bring your thumbnail toward your elbow.

    Just distal to the styloid process of the radius will be a small trough formed by the surrounding tendons.  This is the anatomical snuffbox.  If not seen immediately, change the angle of the thumb.

    Follow the tendons that form the snuffbox (extensor pollicis longus, brevis, and abductor pollicis) proximally as they slide over the posterior surface of the radius.  Lay your fingers along the posterior surface of the radius as your partner circumducts her thumb in order to feel a portion of these muscles contract. (diagram)

    The belly of extensor pollicis longus lie along the posterior aspect of the forearm, deep to the wrist extensors.

    The distal tendons are superficial and form the anatomical snuff box.


    PA: the proximal attachment of 3 snuff muscles, posterior of forearm

    DA: base of 1st distal phalanx, posterior side

          A: extends thumb































Greater Trochanter p.235


    Locate the middle of the iliac crest

    Slide your fingerpads inferiorly 4-6 inches along the lateral side of the thigh until you reach the superficial mass of the greater trochanter.

    Explore and sculpt around all sides of its wide hump.

    Medially and laterally rotate the hip as you palpate the trochanter.

    You should feel its wide, knobbly surface swivel back and forth under your fingers.

    Located distal to the iliac crest, the greater trochanter is the large, superficial mass located on the side of the hip.

    It is easily palpable and serves as an attachment site for the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and deep rotator muscles.

Adductor Tubercle p.284


    Partner supine with knee flexed.  Locate the medial epicondyle of the femur.

    Slide superiorly along the medial side of the femur.  As the outline of the femur drops off into the soft tissue, explore for the small point of the tubercle. (diagram)

    Strum across the adductor magnus tendon by rubbing your thumbpad anteriorly and posteriorly.

    You should be directly proximal to the medial epicondyle.

    With your thumb on the proximal aspect of the tubercle (on the adductor magnus tendon), have your partner gently adduct his hip.  The tendon of the magnus should become taut and press into your finger.

    The adductor tubercle is located proximal to the medial epicondyle, btwn the belly of the vastus medialis and the hamstring tendons.

    Its small tip sticks out from the top of the medial epicondyle and is an attachment site for the adductor magnus tendon.

    It is often tender to the touch.

Adductor Longus and Gracilis  p.256-258


    Supine with the hip slightly flexed and laterally rotated.  Place the flat of your hand at the middle of the medial thigh.  Ask your partner to adduct his hips slightly.

    While your partner contracts, slide your fingers proximally to the pubic bone and locate the taut, prominent tendon(s) of the gracilis and adductor longus extending off (or nearby) the pubic tubercle.

    Strum your fingertip across this tendon and follow it distally as it develops into muscle tissue. (diagram)  If the muscle belly slowly angles into the medial thigh, you are palpating adductor longus.  If the belly is slender and continues down the medial thigh toward the knee, you are accessing gracilis.

    Hint: you should be btwn the hamstrings and the quadriceps femoris group.

    The adductors are located along the medial thigh btwn the hamstrings and quadriceps femoris muscles.

    Their proximal tendons attach at specific locaions along the base of the pelvis. Together, these tendons forma CT drape that extends from the superior ramus of the pubis to the ischial tuberosity.

    When the thigh is viewed anteriorly, the muscle bellies of the adductors lie in 3 layers.

    Adductor longus is one of the most anterior muscles.

    Gracilis lies superficially on the medial thigh.  It is the only adductor that crosses the knee.

    The superficial tendon of gracilis and/or adductor longus is prominent extending off of or nearby the pubic tubercle.  In some cases, it is a merging of both tendons.

    (activation: squeeze your thighs together)



    PA: anterior pubis

    DA: distal to brevis

    A: adduction of femur, assist in hip flexion



    PA: anterior pubis

    DA: tibia, proximal, anteromedial

       A: (1) adducts at hip; (2) flexes knee; (3) medial rotation of knee when knee is flexed


Biceps Femoris and Semitendinosis p.250-252



    Prone. Ask your partner to hold his knee in a flexed position.  Explore the bellies of the hamstrings.

    Locate the ischial tuberosity.  Slide your fingertips distally 1 inch and strum across the large, solid tendon of the hamstring and follow distally.

    The lateral half of the hamstring belly is the biceps femoris.  Its belly will lead toward the head of the fibula.  Palpate on the lateral side of the knee for the long, prominent tendon of the biceps femoris and follow it toward the head of the fibula.

    The medial half of the hamstrings consists of the layered bellies of the semitendinosus and semimembranosus.  Move to the medial side of the knee and palpate for the tendons of these muscles. (diagram)

    The most superficial tendon will be the semitendinosus.  Turn your partner supine and follow it distally as it merges with the pes anserinus tendon. 

    Hint: the tendons along the back of the knee should be slender and superficial. 

    The biceps femoris tendon should lead to the head of the fibula.  You should be able to follow the semitendinosus as it disappears into the medial knee.


    The hamstrings are located along the posterior thigh btwn the vastus lateralis and adductor magnus.

    They are not as massive as the quadriceps femoris group, but they are strong hip extensors and knee flexors.

    All 3 have a common origin: the ischial tuberosity.

    Biceps femoris is the lateral hamstring

    It has 2 heads a superficial long head and a deeper, indiscernible short head.

    (activation: bend your knee or extend your thigh)




    short head: femur, linea aspera

    long head: ishcial tuberosity

    DA: head of fibula

    A: (1) extension, hip joint; (2) flexes knee; (3) laterally rotates the flexed knee



Gluteus medius p.253-255

    Sidelying.  Isolate the shape of the gluteus medius by placing the webbing of one hand along the iliac crest (from PSIS to nearly the ASIS) while the hand locates the greater trochanter.

    Your hands will form the pie-shaped outline of the gluteus medius. (diagram)

    Palpate in this area from just below the iliac crest to the greater trochanter for the dense fibers of the gluteus medius.

    Sink your fingers deep to the gluteus medius in order to explore for the density and mass of the gluteus minimus.

    Ask your partner to abduct his hip slightly and you should feel the medius contract.

    The gluteus medius is located on the outside of the hip and is also superficial, except for the posterior portion which is deep to the maximus.

    It is a strong extensor and abductor of the hip.

    It has convergent fibers that pull the femur in multiple directions.  As such, it is often thought of as the deltoid muscle of the coxal joint.

    (activation: abduct your hip)


    PA: ilium, external surface, anterior ¾

    DA: greater trochanter, lateral surface

    A: hip abduction

    (DA fixed): stabilizes pelvis during single limb stance (main function)

    Anterior fibers: medially rotate

          Posterior fibers: laterally rotate

Piriformis p.264-265


    Prone.  Locate the coccyx, PSIS, and greater trochanter.  Together, these landmarks form a T.

    The piriformis is located along the base of the T. (diagram)

    Place your fingers along this line.  Working through the thick gluteus maximus, roll your fingers across the belly of the slender piriformis.

    Strum across the belly to clarify its location, staying mindful of the deeper sciatic nerve. (diagram)

    Hint: with your fingers on the piriformis, bend the knee to 90 degrees and ask your partner to rotate his hip laterally against your gentle resistance. (diagram)  You may feel gluteus maximus contract, but also piriformis beneath it.

    Located deep to the gluteus maximus and creates lateral rotation of the hip.

    Attaches to aspects of the greater trochanter and fan medially to attach to the sacrum and pelvis.

    Unlike the other lateral hip rotators, piriformis lies superficial to the large sciatic nerve. And if, overcontracted, can compress it.

    One of the more discernible rotators.

    Reptiles have very powerful piriformis, used for extending the femur while running.

    (activation: laterally rotate your hip)


    PA: anterior sacrum

    DA: greater trochanter

          A: lateral rotation at the hip

Rectus Femoris p. 246-248



    Supine with knee bolstered.  Locate the AIIS and the patella.

    Draw an imaginary line btwn these 2 points and follow the path of the rectus femoris.

    Palpate along this line and strum across the rectus fibers. (It will be 2-3 fingers wide.)

    Ask your partner to flex his hip and hold his foot up off the table. (diagram) This position contracts the rectus femoris, making it more pronounced.

    Hint: you should be on the anterior surface of the thigh.

    The cylindrical, superficial rectus femoris is located on the anterior thigh and is the only quadriceps that crosses 2 joints the hip and the knee.

    It primarily extends the knee.

    All 4 quadriceps muscles converge into a single tendon above the knee.  The tendon connects to the top and sides of the patella before attaching to the tibial tuberosity.

    (activation: straighten your knee or flex your hip)


    PA: AIIS, superior acetabular rim

    DA: tibial tuberosity via the patella

          A: flexes hip, extends knee

Vastus Medialis p.246-249


    Supine with knee bolstered.  Ask your partner to fully contract his quadriceps by extending his knee.  Palpate just medial and proximal to the patella for thebulbous shape of the medialis.

    Locate the rectus femoris and sartorius, noting how these muscles surround the medialis to form its long tear drop shape.

    Hint: you should be medial to the rectus femoris.

    You should be able to make out the round shape of the vastus medialis and follow its fibers to the patella.

    Same as above.

    Aka Vastus Medialis Obliqus

    The palpable aspect of vastus medialis forms a tear drop shape at the distal portion of the medial thigh.

    Upon full extension of the knee, vastus medialis extends further distally than the vastus lateralis b/c of the tracking of the patella. The angle of the femur, combined with the pull of the quadriceps, causes the patella to track laterally.  This is prevented in 2 ways: (1) the edge of the lateral condyle of the femur is elevated, forming a lateral wall, and (2) the distal fibers of vastus medialis are set at an angle, pulling the patella medially. (diagram)


    PA: medial lip of linea aspera

    DA: tibial tuberosity via the patella

          A: extends knee

Tensor Fasciae Latae p.260


    Supine.  Locate the ASIS.  Place the flat of your hand posterior and distal to the ASIS and iliac crest.

    Ask your partner to alternate medial rotation with relaxatio of the hip.  Upon medial rotation, the TFL will contract into a solid, oval mound beneath your hand. (diagram)

    Palpate its vertical fibers, outline its width, and follow it distally until the TFL blends into the iliotibial tract.

    Hint: you should be posterior and distal to the anterior iliac crest.

    If you ask your partner to rotate the hip laterally, the TFL should not contract.

    The tensor fasciae latae is a small, superficial muscle located on the lateral side of the upper thigh.

    It is aprox. 3 fingers wide, and is easily accessed btwn the upper fibers of the rectus femoris and the gluteus medius.

    It attaches to the iliotibial band along with gluteus maximus.

    (activation: medially rotate your hip)


    PA: ASIS, external surface

    DA: lateral tubercle of tibia via IT band

    A: (hip): medial rotation, flexion, abduction

          (knee): may assist in extension of the knee

Iliotibial band p.260-261


    Sidelying.  Locate the biceps femoris tendon just proximal to the back of the knee.

    Slide anteriorly from the biceps femoris tendon to the lateral thigh.  Roll your fingers horizontally across the fibers of the iliotibial tract and explore for its tough, superficial quality.  Its most distal aspect may feel similar in size and shape to the biceps femoris tendon.

    Follow it distally as it disappears toward the tibial tubercle.  Explore proximally and note how it becomes broader and thinner as it progresses up the thigh.  Feel the tension of the iliotibial tract change by asking your partner to alternately abduct and relax his hip. (diagram)

    Hint: the fibers should feel superficial and stingy compared to the deeper, fleshier vastus lateralis fibers.

    The fibers should run vertically down the thigh and converge into a thin, cablelike tendon at the tibial tubercle.

    The iliotibial tract is a superficial sheet of fascia with vertical fibers that runs along the lateral thigh.

    It emerges from the gluteal fascia, is wide and dense over the vastus lateralis muscle and funnels into a strong cable along the side of the knee before inserting at the tibial tubercle. (diagram)

    TFL fibers and some fibers of gluteus maximus attach to the proximal aspect of the IT band.

    The iliotibial tract has a thick, matted texture (similar to packing tape) that makes it a strong stabilizing component of hipand knee.

    It is entierly accessible.  The distal cable portion, anterior to the biceps femoris tendon, is the easiest part of the iliotibial tract to isolate.

    (activation: abduct your hip)































Peroneal Tubercle p.288-289


    Supine or seated.  With the ankle in dorsiflexed position, locate the lateral malleolus.

    Slide roughly an inch inferiorly and explore for the small, superficial tubercle.  It may feel like a short ridge on the surface of the calcaneus. (diagram)  Passively everting the foot will soften the surrounding tissues.

    Sculpt around its edges, noting the soft tissues just distal to the tubercle.

    Hint:  you should be distal to the lateral malleolus.

    If you slide off the tubercle distally, you should feel the thick tissues of the foot.

    Ask you partner to alternately evert and relax her foot.  The peroneal tendons should pass along either side of the tubercle.

    The peroneal tubercle is located on the lateral side of the foot. 

    Roughly an inch distal to the lateral malleolus, the tubercle is a small, superficial prominence that protrudes from the calcaneal surface to help stabilize the peroneal muscles. (diagram)

Navicular Tubercle p.294


    Partner seated or supine.  Locate the base of the first metatarsal.

    Sliding along the foots medial side, move proximally across the surface of the medial cuneiform and the slender joint btwn the medial cuneiform and the navicular.

    As you move onto the surface of the navicular, explore the shape and size of the navicular tuberosity. (diagram) 

    The tuberosity will lie aprox. 1-2 inches distal to the medial malleolus.

    Hint: the navicular bone should project more medially than the surfaces of the other bones on the medial foot.

    If you place a finger on the tuberosity of the 5th metatarsal and the navicular tuberosity simultaneously, the metatarsal tuberosity should lie slightly distal to the navicular tuberosity. (diagram)

    (The bean-shaped navicular is sandwiched btwn the medial and middle cuneiforms and the calcaneus.  Its dorsal and medial surfaces are superficial and palpable.) 

    The superficial navicular tubercle bulges out of the medial side of the foot and is an attachment site for the tibialis posterior muscle and the spring ligament. (diagram)

Sustentaculum Tali p.288


    Supine or seated.  Place the ankle in a neutral position and locate the medial malleolus.

    Slide aprox. 1 inch distal to the small tip of the sustentaculum. (diagram)

    Passively inverting the foot will soften the surrounding tissues.

    Sculpt around its sides noting the soft tissues just distal to it.

    Hint: you should be distal to the medial malleolus.  If you slide distally off the sustentaculum tali, you should feel the thick tissues at the sole of the foot.

    The sustentaculum tali is located on the medial side of the calcaneus, roughly 1 inch distal to the medial malleolus. (diagram)

    Shaped like a plank, the sustentaculum supports the talus on the calcaneus.

    It is also an attachment site for the deltoid ligament and is deep to the flexor tendons.

    Only its small tip is accessible.

Head of Fibula p.282


    Partner seated with knee flexed.  Locate the tibial tuberosity.  (See frame below.)

    Slide you fingers laterally 3-4 inches toward the outside of the leg.  Palpate for the head of the fibula. (diagram)

    Explore its inch wide tip.

    Hint: the knob you are palpating should be lateral to the tibial tuberosity.  You can scuplt a circle around it to outline its shape.

    The biceps femoris tendon will lead you to the head of the fibula.

    Alternatively: partner prone, bend the knee to 90 degrees and follow the biceps femoris tendon distally to where it inserts into the head of the fibula.

    The head of the fibula is located on the lateral side of the leg and sometimes protrudes visibly.

    It is the attachment site for the biceps femoris muscle and a portion of the soleus muscle as well as the lateral collateral ligament.

Tibial Tuberosity p.281 (re: head of fibula)


    Partner seated with knee flexed.  Locate the patella.

    Slide your fingers 3-4 inches inferiorly from the patella and using your thumbpad, explore for the tuberosity (diagram)

    Hint: with your finger at the tibial tuberosity, ask you partner to extend his knees slightly.  With this action, the patellar ligament will tighten, and you will be able to feel where it attaches to the tibial tuberosity.


Tibialis Posterior p.307-308


    Supine, prone, or sidelying.  Locate the medial malleolus.  Slide off the malleolus posteriorly and proximally into the space btwn the posterior shaft of the tibia and the calcaneal tendon.

    Explore this region for the distal bellies and tendons of these muscles. (diagram)  Follow the tendons distally around the back of the medial malleolus.

    It is difficult to isolate specific tendons; however, tibialis posterior will be the most anterior.  Have your partner invert his foot as you follow this tendon around the ankle to the underside of the foot.

    Hint: place your fingers on the distal bellies and ask your partner to slowly wiggle all his toes.  You should be able to feel the muscles or tendons shift.

    You should be able to locate the malleolar groove and feel the tendons in and posterior to it.

    You may be able to locate the pulse of the tibial artery.

    TD an H = Tom, Dick an, Harry corresponds to the initials of the tendons and vessels in the order that they pass by the medial malleolus:

    Tibialis posterior  (the most anterior)

    Flexor Digitorum longus

    The tibial Artery

    Tibial Nerve

       Flexor Hallucis longus

    Buried deep to the gastrocnemius and soleus on the posterior leg.

    Responsible for inverting the foot and flexing the toes. (along with flexor digitorum longus and flexor hallucis longus)

    Virtually inaccessible except at the small gap btwn the tibial shaft and the edge of the soleus/calcaneus tendon where the most distal fibers and tendons of the flexors can be palpated directly. (diagram)

    The tendon curves around the medial malleolus and passes deep to the flexor retinaculum.

    The tibial artery and tibial nerve are situated btwn the tendons at the medial ankle.

    (activation: plant and invert your foot)



    PA: tibia, fibula

    DA: navicular tuberosity and surrounding bones

          A: (main): to slow down pronation after heel contacts ground during gait; (2) plantar flexion; (3) inversion

Peroneus Longus and Brevis p.302-303


    Supine, prone, or sidelying.  Place a finger at the head of the fibula and the lateral malleolus. The peroneal bellies are located btwn these 2 landmarks. (diagram)

    Lay your fingers btwn these landmarks and ask your partner to alternately evert and relax your foot.  Feel the peroneals tighten upon eversion.  This action will sometimes create a visible dimple of depression along the side of the leg. (diagram)

    As your partner continues to evert and relax her foot, follow the peroneus longus proximally toward the head of the fibula.  Now follow both muscles distally to where their tendons wrap around the back of the lateral malleolus.

    Follow the peroneus brevis tendon to the base of the 5th metatarsal. (dragram)

    Hint: you should be on the lateral side of the leg btwn the head of the fibula and the lateral malleolus.

    You may be able to differentiate the slender peroneals from the lateral edge of the larger gastrocnemius and soleus.

    You may be able to feel the tendon of the brevis attach to the base of the 5th metatarsal.

    The slender peroneal muscles are located on the lateral side of the fibula. (diagram)  More specifically, they lie btwn the extensor digitorum longus and the soleus.

    A portion of the peroneus brevis lies deep to the peroneus longus, yet both are accessible.

    Their distal tendons are superficial and palpable behind the lateral malleolus and along the side of the heel.

    (activation: evert your foot)



    PA: fibula, lateral, proximal including head

    DA: 1st metatarsal, lateral surface; 1st cuneiform, lateral surface

    A: plantar flexion; eversion



    PA: fibula, lateral, distal

    DA: 5th MT, styloid process, proximal to peroneus tertius

          A: plantar flexion; eversion

Tibialis anterior p.304-305


    Supine.  Locate the shaft of the tibia and slide off it laterally onto the tibialis anterior.

    Ask your partner to dorsiflex (or invert) his foot and palpate its long, inch-wide belly. (diagram)

    With the foot dorsiflexed, palpate the muscle distally as it becomes a thick, tendinous cord.  Follow it to the medial side of the foot as it disappears at the medial cuneiform.

    Hint: as your partner alternately dorsiflexes and relaxes his ankle, you may feel the tendon cross the top of the ankle. 

    Ask your partner to invert his foot and note whether the tibialis anterior is involved.  You may able to feel where the tendon passes under the extensor retinaculum.

    Located on the anterior aspect of the leg btwn the shaft of the tibia and the peroneal muscles.

    The tendon crosses beneath the extensor retinaculum at the ankle.

    The tibialis anterior is large and superficial and the most clearly isolated of the group.  It lies directly lateral to the tibial shaft.

    (activation: bring your foot/toes toward your knee)


    PA: tibia, proximal, lateral

    DA: 1st MT, base, medial surface; 1st cuneiform, medial, plantar surface.

          A: dorsiflexion (talocrural joint); inversion (subtalor joint)

Gastrocnemius p.297-299



    Ask your partner, supported by a chair, to stand on her toes.

    Palpate the posterior leg, sculpting out the gastrocnemius oval heads.  Follow both heads proximally to the back of the knee.  Then follow them distally, noting how the medial head extends further distal than the lateral head. (diagram)

    Move distal to the gastrocnemius and palpate the distal portion of soleus.  Also explore the medial and lateral sides of the soleus that bulge out from the gastrocnemius.

    Follow both muscles distally as they blend into the calcaneal tendon.

    Hint: you can follow the gastrocnemius heads proximally btwn the hamstring tendons. 

    The medial gastroc head is slightly longer than the lateral head.  You may be able to feel the difference in texture btwn the fleshy muscle bellies and the tough, dense calcaneal tendon. (diagram)


    Prone.  Bend the knee to 90 degrees and investigate the soft, massive bellies of the gastrocnemius and soleus and the thick calcaneal tendon.

    When the knee is flexed, the gastoc muscles is shortened and ineffectual as a plantar flexor.  Isolate the soleus by asking your partner to gently plantar flex against your resistance.

    Notice how the thick soleus contracts while the thin, superficial bellies of the gastrocs remain flaccid. (diagram)


    From an anterior angle, with your partner standing, locate the tibial shaft.

    Slide medially off the shaft and feel the wad of muscle that bulges along the medial side of the leg. (diagram)  This tissue is the triceps surae.

    Ask your partner to lie supine and with the tissue relaxed, note how your thumb can sink around the medial edge of the tibial shaft to specifically locate the soleus.

    The large muscle mass of the posterior leg is composed of the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscle.

    Together, they form the triceps surae that attaches to the strong calcaneal tendon.

    Both muscles are easily accessible.

    The superficial gastrocnemius has 2 heads and crosses 2 joints the knee and ankle.  Emerging from btwn the hamstrings tendons, the short gastrocnemius heads extend halfway down the leg before blending into the calcaneal tendon.  It is also quite thin when compared to the thick soleus.

    The soleus is deep to the gastrocnemius, yet its medial and lateral fibers bulge from the sides of the leg and extend further distal than the gastrocnemius heads.  The soleus is sometimes called the secondary heart b/c of the important role its strong contractions play in returning blood form the leg to the heart.

    (activation for gastrocnemius: flex your knee or step down on the ball of your foot)

    (activation for soleus: step down on the ball of your foot)


    PA: femoral condyles

    DA: calcaneus

          A: knee flexion (weak); plantar flexion (talocrural joint)










Longissimus  p.170-171



    Partner prone.  Lay both hands along either side of the lumbar vertebrae.  Locate the region of the lower erectors by asking your partner to alternately raise and lower his feet slightly.  The erectors do not, of course, raise the feet, but they will contract in order to stabilize the pelvis.  Notice how the strong, rounded erector fibers tighten and relax with this action. (diagram)

    As your partner maintains this contraction, palpate inferiorly onto the sacrum and then superiorly along the thoracic vertebrae.  Ask your partner to extend his spine and neck slightly in order to contract the erectors in the thoracic region. (diagram)

    Follow the ropy fibers of the erectors btwn the scapulae and along the back of the neck.  These fibers are smallest in the cervical region and are primarily situated lateral to the lamina groove.

    With your partner relaxed, sink your fingers into the erector fibers, feeling their ropy texture and vertical direction.

    Hint: the fibers should run parallel to the spine.

    SEE DIAGRAM 4.50 pg.171

    Part of the erector spinae group of muscles which runs from the sacrum to the occiput along the posterior aspect of the vertebral column.

    The thick longissimus and lateral iliocostalis form a visible mound alongside the lumbar and thoracic spine.

    In the lumbar region, the erectors lie deep to the thin but dense thoracolumbar aponeurosis. 

    In the thoracic and cervical areas, they are deep to the trapezius, the rhomboids, and the serratus posterior superior and inferior.

    The upper fibers of longissimus  (cervicis and capitis) assist in lateral flexion and rotation of the neck and head.

    (activation: extend your spine or raise your feet slightly)


    forms the middle colum

    is the longest of the erector spinae muscles

    likely to palpate on TVP

    3 parts: thoracis, cervicis, capitis

    (the superior attachment of capitis is the mastoid process)

    A: (bilateral): (1) extension

          (unilateral): (2) lateral flexion of spine (involves some rotation)  (3) eccentric contraction (lenghtening) while slowing flexion of the trunk.

Multifidi  p.173-174


    Partner prone.  Locate the spinous processes of the lumbar vertebrae.  Slide your fingers laterally off the spinous processes, sinking btwn them and the erector spinae fibers.

    Pushing the erectors laterally out of the way, explore deeply for the dense, diagonal fibers of the multifidi. (diagram)  Progress inferiorly to the sacrum, rolling your fingers in a perpendicular direction to the multifidi fibers.

    Move superiorly, exploring the lamina groove of the thoracic and cervical areas.  Then turn your partner supine and palpate the cervical region.

    Hint: you should be bwtn the spinous and transverse processes.  You can get a sense of these smaller, deeper fibers that stretch at an oblique angle.

    Multifidi is part of the transversospinalis muscle group.

    It extends the length of the vertebral column and consists of many short, diagonal fibers.

    These fibers form an intricate stitch-like design that links the vertebrae together.

    These muscle fibers extend at varying lengths from the transverse and spinous processes of the vertebrae.

    The surprisingly thick multifidi are directly accessible in the lumbar spine.  They are the only muscles with fibers that lie across the posterior surface of the sacrum. 

    It can be difficult to isolate the individual bellies of the transversospinalis muscles as they are closely interwoven; however, as a group, their mass or density can be easily felt along the lamina groove of the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae.

    (activation: extend and/or rotate your spine)

    as a group, goes from sacrum to T2

    multifidi crosses 1-4 vertebrae

    best developed in the lumbar region

    A: conventional action: contralateral rotation


Splenius Capitus p.175-176


    Prone.  Locate the upper fibers of the trapezius.

    Isolate the lateral edge of the trapezius by having your partner extend his head slightly.

    Ask your partner to relax.  Palpate just lateral to the trapezius for the splenius capitis oblique fibers, following them up to the mastoid process and inferiorly through the trapezius.

    Hint: the fibers should lead toward the mastoid process.

    You can distinguish the fibers of splenius capitis by asking your partner to rotate his head slightly toward the side you are palpating. You can feel these oblique fibers contract while the trapezius remains passive.


    Locate the mastoid process and slide medially and inferiorly onto the superficial capitis fibers.

    The long splenius capitis muscle is located along the upper back and posterior neck. (diagram) 

    In contrast to the other neck muscles that run parallel to the spine the splenii fibers run obliquely.

    The splenius capitis is deep to the trapezius and rhomboids.

    Its fibers angle toward the mastoid process and are superficial btwn the trapezius and sternocleidomastoid. (diagram)

    (activation: rotate your head to the same side being palpated)


    IA: C4-T2

    SA: mastoid process of temporal bone; lateral half of superior nuchal line of occiput

    A: (1) ipsilateral rotation of head (unilateral); (2)

          (bilateral) extension of head and neck



Anatomy: Palpation List Term2 1