The Spinal Muscles

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Posterior image of the muscles in the spineThe Human Skeleton is the body's framework or scaffolding system. Skeletal bones are classified as long, short, flat, or irregular and vary in length, width, and depth. The bones in the spine are irregular in shape and provide places to connect to other bones. The function of the skeletal system is to support the body against the force of gravity, protect soft body parts, produce red blood cells, store inorganic calcium, and phosphorus salts, and to provide sites for muscle attachment to enable body movement.

More than 30 Muscles and tendons help to provide spinal balance, stability, and mobility. Usually working in groups, muscles contract and relax in response to nerve impulses that originate in the brain. Nerve impulses travel from the brain through the spinal cord to a specific location in the body via the peripheral nervous system.

There are different types of vertebral muscle; forward flexors, lateral flexors, rotators, and extensors. Muscle is the only type of body tissue with the ability to contract. It becomes shorter and thicker during contraction. Some muscles work in pairs or as antagonists. This means when a muscle contracts the opposing muscle relaxes. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments support the spine, hold it upright and control movement during rest and activity.

Several layers of fibrous connective tissue called Fascia (fay-sha) cover muscles. Fascia extends beyond the muscle to become the tendon that attaches the muscle to bone.

This article is an excerpt from the book Save Your Aching Back and Neck: A Patient’s Guide, edited by Dr. Stewart Eidelson.

Updated on: 03/04/16
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Bone Basics and Your Spine
Mark R. McLaughlin, MD
Dr. Eidelson's article describes the spinal muscles. His book "Save Your Aching Back" is an outstanding contribution to the lay public's literature regarding spinal disorders. I have used his material often when I educate my patients in the office. He is to be commended for his lifelong dedication to patient education.
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