Paraspinal Muscles

Original Editor - Lucinda hampton

Top Contributors - Lucinda hampton and Lucy Aird  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Some of the paraspinal muscles

The majority of the vertebral column movements are produced by an extensive set of muscles, that run all the way along the back of the spine. They’re known collectively as the paraspinal muscles. The paraspinal muscles are also a component of the: Core Muscles; Back Muscles (minus psoas).

The highest of them are attached to the base of the skull, the lowest ones originate from the sacrum and iliac crest, some in between are attached to the backs of the ribs, and many are attached to the transverse and spinous processes of the vertebrae[1].

Psoas and quadratus lumborum visible

They paraspinal muscles support the spine and power and stabilise movement of the spine.

Specific paraspinal muscles atrophy (sarcopenia) and develop fatty infiltration in patients with acute and chronic LBP on the symptomatic side. The multifidus muscle in particular decreases in size on the symptomatic side in patients with chronic unilateral LBP[2].

Anatomy[edit | edit source]

Back Muscles

The muscles are usually considered to include:

Psoas major muscle

Quadratus lumborum muscles

Erector spinae group (intermediate layer)

  1. longissimus
  2. iliocostalis
  3. transversospinalis group (deep layer)

Physiotherapy[edit | edit source]

Core/paraspinal muscle exercise: Plank

The paraspinal muscles are extremely important as they help maintains proper posture and protect the spinal segments. They also are crucial to most athletic endeavours because almost all athletic movements utilise these muscles to some extent.

These paraspinal muscles can be injured directly eg a pulled back muscle or muscle back strain. The muscles can also cause problems indirectly eg: muscles spasm after injury to other parts of the spine, usually occuring as a reflex following a disc, ligament, or muscles injury; slumped seating position for extended periods (see lower crossed syndrome). There has been great research interest in using the cross-sectional area of these muscles as part of assessing cases of low/lumbar back pain.

As the paraspinals function to stabilize the lower back core stability training and back exercises are effective in strengthening these muscles.[3]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Acland Anatomy Paravertebral muscles Available: (accessed 15.2.2022)
  2. Wan Q, Lin C, Li X, Zeng W, Ma C. MRI assessment of paraspinal muscles in patients with acute and chronic unilateral low back pain. The British journal of radiology. 2015 Sep;88(1053):20140546. Available: (accessed 15.2.2022)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Crush back pain Paraspinal muscles Available: 15.2.2022)
  4. Radiopedia paraspinal muscles Available: 15.2.2022)