Muscles: Erector Spinae




Ever wondered what holds your body up?
Those muscles that run along your spine and hold you upright and together are a group of muscles called the Erector Spinae muscles. Along with the deep spinal muscles, Spinalis, Interspinalis, Multifidis and Semispinalis they form a complex network of muscles which bind your spinal column together.

The Erector Spinae muscle group get their name from the Latin: Sacrum, sacred and Spinalis, Spinal.

The Erector Spinae muscles function in the following way:

Iliocostalis

Origin: Thoracolumbar Aponeurosis, Posterior Ribs
Insertion:
Posterior ribs, Cervical transverse processes

Longissimus

Origin: Thoracolumbar Aponeurosis, Lumbar and thoracic transverse processes
Insertion:
Cervical and thoracic transverse processes, mastoid process
Action: Bilaterally - Extension of the Spine, Unilaterally - Lateral flexion of the spine

Spinalis

Origin: Ligamentum nuchae, cervical and thoracic spinous processes
Insertion:
Cervical and thoracic spinous processes, occipital bone
Action: Bilaterally - Extension of the Spine, Unilaterally - Lateral flexion of the spine

These muscles are often affected by heavy lifting which can cause acute strains. Over use tension from repetitive, occupational or postural stress can lead to imbalance and postural alignment issues.

Referral pain from problems with the Erector Spinae muscles can often be felt in the Cervical area, due to the muscles being shortened by a curvature of the spine.
The Mid-Thoracic region, as many of the muscles which come from above or below this region attach here, which can subject it to stress from movements in the opposite direction.
Finally in the lumbar region  due to shortened muscles causing a forward tilt of the pelvis and weakened abdominal muscles. Running, jumping and other activities which can cause compression in the lower back can also aggravate this area.

Any back massage that you receive to treat back pain will address the erector spinae group. An assesment of your posture will be done and when lying in the prone position (face down) Long massage strokes will be used to warm the tissue with deep pressure being used on specific areas to assist with treating curvature.
When treating tight or damages muscles of this group, the therapist will work across the muscle, that is in opposition of the direction that the muscle runs (against the grain) to help break down scar tissue and release any trigger points.

If you have any questions about the Erector Spinae group that you would like answered, or any aches and pains you would like addressed, please comment below, or Email Me.

I would like to thank Charlie Watson at Advanced Massage therapeutics for some of the information contained within this article.
Also used as resources was:
Sports & Remedial Massage Therapy by Mel Cash
Deep Tissue Massage: A visual guide to techniques by Art Riggs
The Concise Book of Neuromuscular Therapy by John Sharkey