Two types of muscles exist in the body, and they are voluntary or the ones that we can move and involuntary or those that move on their own like the digestive and heart muscles. Both can be made stronger and more resilient through exercise and physical activity. We’re shall focus on the voluntary muscles that move and support the spine.
When there is a lack of muscle strength and flexibility it can create an environment for back pain. The muscles connect to the bones through the tendons. When contracted the signal concentrates through the tendon, and moves the bone/s. The tendons are attached to the bones. When the tendons get inflamed, tendonitis can occur even in the spine.
Some go deeper while others are more superficial and at the surface. The deeper muscles are the ones that stabilize and secure the bones. The abdominal muscles along with the hips and legs can play a part in back pain/problems.
A doctor might have told you that to have a healthy spine. That is great news, however, we all need to build a strong core, which includes the abdominal muscles, to help stabilize the entire torso. There are four types of abdominal muscles.
The deepest is the transversus abdominis, which wraps around your body just like a corset. These muscles contract if you place your hands on your waist and cough. On the sides of your body, there are two sets of oblique muscles. The internal obliques go deeper, while the external obliques are closer to the surface. The obliques enable us to twist and bend from side to side.
And of course, there is the rectus abdominis which we all know as the six-pack. These can be sculpted into the washboard abs but they do not help in stabilizing the spine/back. The job of the abs is to pull you forward like when doing sit-ups and crunches.
They do help compress the deeper ab muscles, but to stabilize the spine, you want to strengthen the deepest ab muscles. The corset, internal obliques, and back muscles are the ones you want to work. One of the most effective ab and back workouts is Pilates. It targets all abdominal and spine muscles in a gentle way.
Within the body are two muscles on either side of the body, called the iliopsoas muscles, or the psoas (so-as). These are the hip and thigh flexors which lift the thighs like when walking, going upstairs.
When in a stationary position, the psoas enables you to bend forward or flex the hips. When sitting, the psoas stabilizes the spine into an upright position. It is one of the largest and thickest muscles, and it extends from your lumbar vertebrae, crosses in front of each hip, and attaches on the inside top of the thigh bone. When we sit for long periods it constricts or shortens the psoas, which causes soreness/pain when you stand.
Spinal muscles are made up of layers. The deepest are small and are attached one vertebra to another. The deepest level are the interspinalis muscles, which connect the spinous processes; thank them for helping you stretch backward.
The transversospinalis group forms a chevron pattern along the back and helps with side bending, twisting, and assists in back bending. The next layer up is the erector spinae. The main job of this group is bending, but also assist with bending to the side . When muscle spasms occur, it’s often the erector spinae muscles.
The next level consists of the rhomboids. These are situated between the shoulder blades. Exercise or physical therapy can realign the vertebrae if there is upper back, shoulder and neck pain. The wings on either side of the back are called latissmius dorsi. These stabilize the back and help in doing all kinds of activities, like pull-ups.
Next are the trapezius (traps) muscles that extend from your neck and midback to the shoulders. These muscles help move your neck and lift the shoulder blades. When there is tension, there is a tendency to lift our shoulders, which is what makes these muscles tight and sore. It’s never too late to increase strength and flexibility. Look at activities that you and your friends/family can enjoy and turn them into a regular thing.
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A chiropractor is the ideal medical professional to consult with for any unexplained pain in the musculoskeletal system. They are highly qualified professionals that their specialty is treating conditions like lower back pain and they are very affordable. If you or a loved one have pain give us a call. We’re here to help!