Back Muscles Anatomy

Knowing something about the back muscles anatomy might make it easier to understand where you could be getting it wrong with an exercise regime for back pain. Broadly speaking, there are 3 muscle groups you should be aware of: 

  • The deep spinal muscles 'multifidus'
  • The long cable muscles of the spine 'erector spinae'
  • The deepest core muscle 'transversus abdominis' 

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Understanding Important Back Muscles Anatomy
. . . . and their Odd Function When the back is bad

It's important to know that over-activity of the long cable muscles causes reflex under-activity of the deeper muscles, both multifidus and the deep core muscles transversus abdominis. 

Erector spinae switch on when the back is sore. They do this as an automatic protective mechanism to hold the segments secure until immediate inflammation has passed. The problem is, if you mentally hold your back as well, you heighten the level and the duration of muscular contraction - and this compresses the spinal segments. Unwittingly you enter a vicious cycle of making the back worse by over-protecting it.

Apart from making your back more stiff and sore, over-activity of erector spinae reduces the efficacy the deep spinal muscles, multifidus. These short, vertebra-to-vertebra back muscles control the stability of the individual spinal segments. Things become precarious when multifidus is switched off because the spine becomes intrinsically less secure. This is why you fear bending when your back is bad. 

Included in the chief players in back muscle anatomy is the deepest abdominal, or core muscle, transversus abdominis. It has a dual role of both a back muscle - slotting the spinal segments down on one another to make the spine more stable during bending - and abdominal muscle, pulling the navel in at the front.  

Trouble is, this double-acting back and front muscle also becomes less efficient if there's excessive contraction of the long spinal muscles, which you can feel as cables of rigidity running down either side of your spine. Weakness of TrA is another reason you fear bending - and also why it's hard holding your belly in when your back is bad.

The video above explains all about back muscles anatomy and the important lower back strengthening exercises. It provides all the information you need on the do's and dont's of strengthening exercises for each group. This important back pain video shows you how to use the Roman Chair to strengthen both multifidus and transversus. 

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