What Are the Muscles in the Back?

muscles in the back

All the muscles in the back get their blood supply from the posterior intercostal, lumbar, and deep cervical arteries. These arteries innervate both intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the back. Intrinsic back muscles include the rhomboid muscles, the lats, and the abdominals. The largest muscle group in the back, known as the erector spinae, spans the entire back and is divided into three regional groups based on their function and location.

Arterial supply

The arteries that supply the back’s muscles come from various sources. The posterior intercostal, lumbar, and deep cervical arteries all supply various muscle groups. The erector spinae, the main muscle group of the back, receives blood from its dorsal rami of the spinal nerves and the posterior intercostal artery. The spinal nerves innervate both intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the back, namely the rhomboid and the erector spinae. These two major muscle groups are connected by multiple nerves, including the vertebral arteries.


There are three main types of back muscles: deep, intermediate, and superficial. The specific functions of each one of these muscles depend on the direction in which it pulls. These muscles provide stability and movement to the body as a whole, and they also work in tandem with neighboring muscles to support the trunk. For example, the latissimus dorsi muscle extends the shoulder, while the upper, middle, and lower trapezius muscles stabilize and elevate the shoulder blade.

Conditions that affect them

Spinal problems and spondylolisthesis are among the most common causes of low back pain in older adults. This condition results from a narrowing of the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord and bundle of nerves in the lower back. It is also a common cause of low back pain in middle-aged adults. Among other reasons, people with spondylolisthesis may have osteoarthritis or Paget disease.

Exercises to relieve tightness

Tightness in the muscles in the back can be a result of a variety of causes, from overtraining to sports injuries. Oftentimes, the tightness occurs because of a sprain or strain in the back muscle. Inflammation and swelling also play a role, and these conditions can cause muscle tightness. To help you get rid of this pain, here are some exercises to relieve tightness in the back muscles.


The first phase of treatment involves reducing the pain and spasm caused by the injury. Depending on the severity of the muscle injury, rest, ice packs, and compression may be used. Your health care provider may also prescribe NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling. Resting the injured area for several days is not recommended, since this will only delay the healing process. It is best to perform gentle stretching and exercise to restore mobility and prevent further damage. Cold packs or heat therapy may also be used for reducing inflammation.

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