In part 3 of this three part series on “Building The Back,” I will discuss the lower back. The muscles of the lower back include the:
While the erector spinae is just one muscle, it actually consists of three different layers of fibers. The iliocostalis or lateral layer, the longissimus or middle layer and the spinalis or medial layer. Each layer of fibers has a slightly different purpose. However, unlike some of the other muscles in the back which consisted of different fibers, the erector spinae all work together to extend the trunk. Thus, any exercise that involves back extension can be used to strengthen the erector spinae.
The iliocostalis or lateral layer of the erector spinae starts out at what is called the thoracolumbar aponeurosis or the base of the spine and runs up the entire length of the spine inserting at the cervical transverse processes or the base of the neck.
The longissimus or middle layer of the erector spinae also originates at the thoracolumbar aponeurosis or the base of the spine and runs up the entire length of the spine inserting at the cervical transverse processes or the base of the neck. However, the longissimus layer runs just inside of the iliocostalis layer. Thus, it is referred to as the middle layer.
The spinalis or medial layer of the erector spinae originates at the ligamentium nuchae, which is much higher on the low back and inserts high in the upper back at the cervical and thoracic spinous processes. This layer runs more up the center of the back, just inside the longissimus layer. Thus, it is more commonly known as the medial layer.
There are several exercises that are effectively used to strengthen the erector spinae muscles:
• the deadlift
• the stiff legged deadlift
• reverse extensions
2. Thompson, C.E. and Floyd, R.T. (1994). The shoulder joint. In:
of Structural Kinesiology, 12th ed. Smith, J.M. Ed. St. Louis, MS:
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