Deep muscles of the back - longissimus capitis visible at top right, longisimus cervicis visible at center upper right, and longissimus dorsi visible at center right
Origin transverse process
Insertion transverse process
Artery lateral sacral artery
Nerve posterior branch of spinal nerve
Actions Laterally: Flex the head and neck to the same side. Bilaterally: Extend the vertebral column.
Antagonist Rectus abdominis muscle
Latin musculus longissimus
TA A04.3.02.010
FMA 77178

Anatomical terms of muscle

The longissimus is the muscle lateral to the semispinalis. It is the longest subdivision of the erector spinae that extends forward into the transverse processes of the posterior cervical vertebrae.


Longissimus thoracis

The longissimus thoracis is the intermediate and largest of the continuations of the erector spinae.

In the lumbar region, where it is as yet blended with the iliocostalis lumborum, some of its fibers are attached to the whole length of the posterior surfaces of the transverse processes and the accessory processes of the lumbar vertebræ, and to the anterior layer of the lumbodorsal fascia.

In the thoracic region, it is inserted, by rounded tendons, into the tips of the transverse processes of all the thoracic vertebræ, and by fleshy processes into the lower nine or ten ribs between their tubercles and angles.

Longissimus cervicis

The longissimus cervicis (transversalis cervicis), situated medial to the longissimus thoracis, arises by long, thin tendons from the summits of the transverse processes of thoracic vertebræ 1-5, and is inserted by similar tendons into the posterior tubercles of the transverse processes of cervical vertebrae 2-6.[1]

Longissimus capitis

The longissimus capitis (trachelomastoid muscle) lies medial to the longissimus cervicis, between it and the semispinalis capitis.

It arises by tendons from the transverse processes of the upper four or five thoracic vertebrae, and the articular processes of the lower three or four cervical vertebrae, and is inserted into the posterior margin of the mastoid process, beneath the splenius capitis and sternocleidomastoid.

It is almost always crossed by a tendinous intersection near its insertion.

See also

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)

  1. Stone, Robert J. Stone, Judith A. (2008). Atlas of skeletal muscles (6. ed.). Boston: McFraw-Hill Higher Education. ISBN 978-0071283595.
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