Spinal Muscles

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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.


Muscles of the Posterior Cervical and Upper Thoracic Spine



cervical muscles? PCERVMUSCLESL.GIF

1 Semispinalis Capitus (head rotation/pulls backward)
2 Iliocostalis Cervicis (extends cervical vertebrae)
3 Longissimus Cervicus (extends cervical vertebrae)
4 Longissimus Capitus (head rotation/pulls backward)
5 Longissimus Thoracis (extension/lateral flexion vertebral column, rib rotation)
6 Iliocostalis Thoracis (extension/lateral flexion vertebral column, rib rotation)
7 Semispinalis Thoracis (extends/rotates vertebral column)

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: 02/15/10
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.