What Are the Muscles in the Back?

muscles in the back

The muscles of the back are classified into three categories: deep, intermediate, and superficial. The function of each muscle varies depending on the direction of the pull. There are numerous back muscles that provide movement and stability. The latissimus dorsi and iliocostalis stabilize the shoulder blade and levate and retract the shoulders, respectively. These muscles work together to give the spine stability and lumbar support.

Erector Spinae

The Erector Spinae are a group of muscles in the back. They are found at the base of the skull, and are connected to the vertebral column through transverse and transversal processes. The muscles are classified into two classes: deep intrinsic and surface. The semispinalis, multifidus, and rotatores are the most superficial muscles. Each is associated with a vertebral process and varies from individual to individual.


The spine and erector spinae are made up of two muscle groups. The spinalis and iliocostalis are the most superficial groups, with the erector spinae being the most deep. The Spinalis originates from the posterior aspect of ribs 3-6 and from the angle between the ribs and the iliac crest. The iliocostalis reaches from the iliac crest to the C7 vertebra. It is innervated by the dorsal rami of the upper thoracic spinal nerve.


A trigger point on the iliocostalis lumborum muscle is responsible for anterior torso pain. This type of pain is well recognized. It occurs when there is a trigger point in the muscle, which reproduces the referred pain when stimulated. Trigger points are often found in the right lower quadrant or left side of the chest, and can occur on both sides of the torso.


When you stretch the trapezius muscles in the back, you may experience muscle strain. If you stretch too far, you may tear the muscle, so it’s important to avoid any exercises that place undue strain on this muscle. These muscles perform several functions, including rotating the neck and shoulders, extending the arms behind the body, and stabilizing the spine during certain movements. Although the trapezius is not the most visible muscle in the back, it is a significant part of the back.

Serratus posterior superior

The serratus posterior superior is one of the upper-back muscles. It originates from the spinous processes of the thoracic and cervical spines. Its three to four descending muscle spikes insert into the lateral sides of the angles of the second to fifth ribs. They are involved in deep inspiration. Their origins are not fully understood. But they do play a crucial role in breathing.


The Multiifidus muscle is a key stabiliser of the back. Its attachments include fibres that travel from vertebra to vertebra and groups of two or three. Its ability to group together and control fine movements at the spinal level makes it a critical back stabilizer. In fact, it provides two-thirds of the back’s muscular stability. Hence, this muscle is essential to maintain posture and control spinal movement.

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