The Teres Major Muscle

January 19, 2016     muscle | shoulders | Anatomy | Upper Limb

The teres major muscle

The teres major muscle is a small muscle that contributes to stabilizing the shoulder joint. It’s close relationship with the rotator cuff muscles means that it probably helps them out. It also has a strong relationship with the latissimus dorsi muscle and assists it with internal rotation of the shoulder joint.

What does teres major mean?

Teres means rounded. Major refers to the fact that it is the larger of the two “teres” muscles. Teres major works hand in hand with latissimus dorsi. It’s often called the “lat’s little helper”.

The Teres Major Muscle Location

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Where does the teres major attach?

Teres major is a superficial muscle located below teres minor.

Origin of teres major

Teres major originates on the upper surface of the inferior (lower) angle of the scapula (shoulder blade).

Insertion of teres major

It inserts on the medial (inner) lip of the bicipital groove. The bicipital groove is the groove at the top of the humerus that the biceps tendon passes through.

Teres Major Muscle Attachments

What actions does the teres major do?

Teres major is responsible for:

  • Medial rotation of the humerus
  • Adduction of the humerus
  • Extension of the humerus
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Postures where the teres major muscle contracts

Teres major isn’t often responsible for moving us into postures. It’s used for stabilizing the shoulder joint. This is especially true when we are supporting our body weight with our hands or forearms as you see below.

Pincha Mayurasana

Teres major will contract in postures that require us to hold our body weight on our arms, like pincha mayurasana (peacock pose).

Headstand - Sirsasana

Headstand has a similar configuration and will require stability of the shoulder joint from teres major.

Postures where the teres major muscle is lengthened

Warrior 1

In warrior 1 we’re extending our arms out to the side and externally rotating, lengthening this muscle.

Trigger points

The Teres Major Muscle Trigger Points


  1. Pingback: Teres Major: Learn Your Muscles - Custom Pilates and Yoga

  2. I found this a bit confusing. Initially you mention the teres role in medial rotation of the humerus. In warrior 1 you talk about external rotation. You also mention extending arms out to the side. It looks to me like the arms are being extended vertically. So which action is lengthening the teres? External rotation and/or upward-vertical extension? I think it is enough to show urdhva-hasta without the distraction of warrior 1.