Erector spinae

Original Editor ­- Aarti Sareen

Top Contributors - Kim Jackson, Laura Ritchie, Aarti Sareen, Wendy Walker and Joanne Garvey


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Erector spinae is  group of muscles of back which extends the vertebreal column. It is also known as sacrospinalis and extensor spinae in some texts[1]. It is paired formed of 3 other muscles and tendons and runs more or less vertically. It extends throughout the lumbar, thoracic and cervical regions, and lies in the groove to the side of the vertebral column. In cervical region it is covered by nucal ligament and in thoracic and lumber region by thoracolumbar fascia.It is made up of 3 muscles:

  • Medially by Spinalis
  • Centerally by Longissimus
  • Laterally by Illiocostalis

The spinalis is just next to the spine, and to work on this muscle  fingertips or thumbs can be used easily. The longissimus forms the main meat of the erector group, and is palpated as a taught rope half an inch lateral to the spine. The attachment of the iliocostalis is to the ilium and ribs. Because of it's lateral position, a tight iliocostalis can bring a hip up, or bring the ribcage down toward the hip.

Each of these have 3 parts further.

spinalis capitis
longissimus capitis
illiocostalis cervicis
spinalis cervicis
longissimus cervicis
illiocostalis thoracis
spinalis thoracis
longissimus thoracis
illiocostalis lumborum



Function and Training


Muscle testing



  1. Terminologia Anatomica, 1999.
  2. Anatomy Tutorials. Intrinsic back muscles - 3D anatomy tutorial. Available from: [last accessed 26/03/14]
  3. FitnessEduAu. Posterior Muscles (Erector spinae). Available from: [last accessed 26/03/14]
  4. 3StrongVideos. Function and Training of the Erector Spinae Muscles - Coach. Available from: [last accessed 26/03/14]
  5. Sheena Livingstone. Erector Spinae Muscle Test. Available from: [last accessed 26/03/14]