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Functional Medicine Explained
Categories: Spine Care

The Spinal Muscles: An Extensive Guide

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The spinal muscles and ligaments work in conjunction to help support the spine, maintain an upright posture, and control movements during activity and rest. The muscles are named based on shape, location, or a combination. Further categorization factors include muscle functions like flexion, extension, or rotation. Skeletal muscle is a form of striated muscle tissue that is voluntarily controlled by the somatic nervous system. Striated means it is striped in appearance. Most skeletal muscles are attached to bones by collagen fibers known as tendons.

Vertebral Muscle TypesLocation
Forward flexorsAnterior
Lateral flexorsLateral
RotatorsLateral
ExtensorsPosterior

It has the fastest contraction rate of all muscles. Before muscle/s contract, a nerve impulse starts in the brain and runs through the spinal cord to the muscle. For the muscles to contract and work properly they need energy/fuel. Mitochondria produce Adenosine triphosphate chemical cells that are needed for energy. Adenosine triphosphate is made as the mitochondria burn glucose or sugar. The blood vessels deliver the oxygen and nutrients that the mitochondria need to maintain a steady supply of adenosine triphosphate.

The Posterior Cervical and Upper Thoracic Spinal Muscles

  1. Semispinalis Capitus – controls the head rotation and backward pulls
  2. Iliocostalis Cervicis – extends the cervical vertebrae
  3. The Longissimus Cervicus – extends the cervical vertebrae
  4. Longissimus Capitus – controls the head’s rotation and backward pulls
  5. Longissimus Thoracis – controls the extension/lateral flexion of the vertebral column and rib rotation
  6. Iliocostalis Thoracis – controls the extension/lateral flexion of the vertebral column and rib rotation
  7. Semispinalis Thoracis – extends and rotates the vertebral column

Muscles of the Spinal Column

Cervical muscles

Cervical MusclesFunctionNerve
SternocleidomastoidExtends, rotates the head and flexes vertebral columnC2, C3
ScalenusFlexes and rotates the neckLower cervical
Spinalis CervicisExtends and rotates the headMiddle/lower cervical
Spinalis CapitusExtends and rotates the headMiddle/lower cervical
Semispinalis CervicisExtends and rotates the vertebral columnMiddle/lower cervical
Semispinalis CapitusRotates the head and pulls backwardC1-C5
Splenius CervicisExtends the vertebral columnMiddle/lower cervical
Longus Colli CervicisFlexes the cervical vertebraeC2-C7
Longus CapitusFlexes the headC1-C3
Rectus Capitus AnteriorFlexes the headC2, C3
Rectus Capitus LateralisBends the head laterallyC2, C3
Iliocostalis CervicisExtends the cervical vertebraeMiddle/lower cervical
Longissimus CervicisExtends the cervical vertebraeMiddle/lower cervical
Longissimus CapitusRotates the head and pulls backwardMiddle/lower cervical
Rectus Capitus Posterior MajorExtends and rotates the headSuboccipital
Rectus Capitus Posterior MinorExtends the headSuboccipital
Obliquus Capitus InferiorRotates the atlasSuboccipital
Obliquus Capitus SuperiorExtends and bends the head laterallySuboccipital

Thoracic Muscles

Thoracic musclesFunctionNerve
Longissimus ThoracisExtension, lateral flexion of the vertebral column and rib rotationDorsal primary divisions of the spinal nerves
Iliocostalis ThoracisExtension, lateral flexion of the vertebral column, and rib rotationDorsal primary divisions of the spinal nerves
Spinalis ThoracisExtends the vertebral columnDorsal primary divisions of the spinal nerves
Semispinalis ThoracisExtends and rotates the vertebral columnDorsal primary divisions of the spinal nerves
Rotatores ThoracisExtends and rotates the vertebral columnDorsal primary divisions of the spinal nerves

Lumbar muscles

Lumbar musclesFunctionNerve
Psoas MajorFlexes the thigh at the hip joint and the vertebral columnL2, L3, sometimes L1 or L4
Intertransversarii LateralisLateral flexion of the vertebral columnVentral primary division of the spinal nerves
Quadratus LumborumLateral flexion of the vertebral columnT12, L1
InterspinalesExtends the vertebral columnDorsal primary divisions of the spinal nerves
Intertransversarii MedialesLateral flexion of the vertebral columnDorsal primary divisions of the spinal nerves
MultifidusExtends and rotates the vertebral columnDorsal primary divisions of the spinal nerves
Longissimus LumborumExtends and rotates the vertebral columnDorsal primary divisions of the spinal nerves
Iliocostalis LumborumExtension, lateral flexion of the vertebral column, and rib rotationDorsal primary divisions of the spinal nerves

Muscle Fascia Fibrous Tissue

  • Fascia is the thickened connective tissue that surrounds a muscle or muscle group. Superficial fascia is directly under the skin.
  • Epimysium surrounds the skeletal muscle.
  • Perimysium is the sheath that groups the muscle fibers into bundles.
  • Endomysium is another type of connective tissue that sheaths each muscle fiber.

The cause of back pain and spinal muscle spasm/s can be caused by overuse, automobile accident, personal, work, or sports injury. The root cause of muscle spasm/s is usually a consequence of an injury to a structure within the lumbar spine. If there have been one or more episodes of muscle spasm in the low back, chances are it will re-occur. The muscles in the low back work together with the abdominal muscles. The spinal muscles add stability by maintaining an erect spine and maintain balance.

Chiropractic Lower Back Pain Treatment

Dr. Alex Jimenez’s Blog Post Disclaimer

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, and sensitive health issues and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate and support directly or indirectly our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation as to how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. The provider(s) Licensed in Texas& New Mexico*

Dr. Alex Jimenez

Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal mobility, posture control, health Instruction, functional fitness, and structural conditioning. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility.

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