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The erector spinae is a main troublemaker when it comes to low back pain.
It consists of several muscles – longissimus thoracis, iliocostalis, multifidi, rotatores – and runs on and parallel to the spine.
It can be divided into two groups – the lateral/outer tract and the medial/inner tract.
Trigger points in the erector can give you pain all over the entire back and may even send pain to your upper leg and lower abdominal region.
It is often involved in…
For a better localization of common trigger points, just compare the trigger point number shown in the respective pain zone picture with the trigger point number shown in the muscle picture in the chapter attachment points.
This way you already have a clue where to start your search for tender spots in your muscle.
The upper Iliocostalis thoracis can trigger pain along the medial border of the scapula and in the lower chest.
The latter can mimic an acute angina. In case of such pain, always consult your doctor immediately to rule out any serious disease.
Trigger points in the lower part of the iliocostalis thoracis can refer pain upwards and downwards as well as in the area of the outer abdomen.
This part of the erector can refer pain to the region of your lumbar spine and to the buttocks.
Often it is involved in unilateral hip pain or a strong lumbago.
The picture displays the pain pattern of Trp X6.
Trigger points in the longissimus thoracis can refer pain to the buttocks as well as to the iliac crest.
The upper trigger points of these muscles refer mostly pain to the …
If the erector spinae muscles are too tight or contains tender or trigger points, they may limit certain movements or make them highly unpleasant.
Bending over the bathtub to wash your hair, or bending over to get that box of water out your trunk might become very painful.
Like most of the times, if a muscle is in “trouble” it gives you pain when you exert its function or the opposite movement. In the first case – using it – any contraction/”activation“ will hurt.
In the second case the muscle would have to stretch to make a movement happen. For a tight muscle this often is too much. With tight muscles, the nervous system is often highly irritated and works against any elongation/extension of an affected muscle.
I will not go into any detailed descriptions of all the muscles.
What you need to know though, is that the medial tract runs directly on the spine whereas the lateral tract runs mainly close at the side of the spine and covers the medial tract.
So the attachment points of the medial tract are only the vertebras of the spine – not shown here -.
The lateral tract attaches at the head, the ribs, all along the spine and at the hip.
The picture displays the lateral tract of the erector spinae.
The medial tract of the erector spinae mainly stabilizes your spine.
A contraction of both sides – left and right from the spine – helps to extend/bend your back. A contraction of only one side rotates the vertebras to the other side. But the rotation is not a big movement.
It can be seen more as a fine tuning on how your vertebras are positioned. The main rotatory work is done by your abdominal muscles.
The lateral part, which consists of considerably bigger muscles, is in charge for “larger” movements.
When contracting both sides it helps to keep the body in an upright position and bends the back backwards.
If only one side of your lateral tract contracts, your spine and thus your body gets bend sideways to the same side.
Especially bending over and twisting the body can overload the erector spinae muscles.
Even with no additional weight – e.g. a water box – this can be already too much as certain fibers of the muscle may get overloaded.
Of course, if you carry any heavy object and twist and bend your body, this puts even more stress on the muscle and thus makes it even more prone to get stressed.
Aside from that, anything that changes the position of your hips a lot or permanently will create lots of stress in your erector spinae and may lead to tender and trigger points.
For example, limping or sitting on your wallet will tilt your hip, bend your spine and thus influence its corresponding muscles.
Feeling the lateral tract of this muscle will be no problem for you.
The massage is done best with a massage ball.
For navigational issues, I recommend using the muscle picture at the top of the site. It will help with deciding on where to massage.
I like to massage the erector spinae with a ball. It is simple, comfortable, and effective.
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