In Part 3 of our “lesser-known muscle groups” series, we’ll talk about the spinal erectors.
What are the Spinal Erectors?
These muscles run all the way from the bottom of your spine at the sacrum to the base of your skull. As with most muscles, they come in pairs, one for each side of your spine. When you flex the right side, you’ll bend to the right and/or tilt your head to the right. When you flex the left, the opposite occurs. When you flex both of them together, you look up and bend backwards.
Extending the spine (Toes to head not required!):
Spinal Erector Muscles:
There are 3 main bundles of muscle that comprise the spinal erectors:
- Spinalis – closest to the vertebrae
- Iliocostalis – furthest from the vertebrae
So while the job of the erectors is to extend the spine, if you have a force pulling you down and trying to move your spine into flexion, such as in a hyperextension or a deadlift, the spinal erectors will work simply to keep your spine neutral.
Example of NOT using your spinal erectors:
Using your spinal erectors:
Why are your spinal erectors important?
Your spinal erectors are a big part of your “core” muscles. (Read more about the core HERE) Increasing core strength is a common goal among many clients and for good reason! Having a strong and stable core is very important for prevention of back pain, especially lower-back pain which afflicts up to 80% of all adults at some point in their life!
As you can imagine, spinal erectors are also integral in maintaining good posture, since they are responsible for keeping your spine in a straight and neutral position. If you ever make an effort to sit up straight at your desk for an extended period, you may feel these muscles start to ache – give them the attention they need and maintaining proper posture will become almost effortless! Stay tuned later this week for some exercises that will help strengthen these important muscles (as well as a belated hip flexor exercise post!).
B.S. , NASM-CPT