Our back is supported by groups of muscles, which support our posture and ensure stability and balance of the body. However, most of us suffer from a frequent backache mainly due to a faulty posture. Some women may develop chronic back pain after delivery especially if they have undergone a caesarean section.
If you have been suffering from pain in the upper or lower back, the information given below about back muscle anatomy, their functionalities, and the exercises for strengthening these muscles can help you get rid of the discomfort and allow you to stay fit.
- 1 The major Muscles of The Back
- 2 The Functionality of Each Muscle group
- 3 Exercises that Target the Upper Back Muscles
- 4 Exercises that Target the Lower Back Muscles
The major Muscles of The Back
The muscles of the back are broadly divided into three groups as given below:
- Superficial muscles: These muscles help in the movements of the shoulders.
- Intermediate muscles: These muscles are associated with the movements of the rib cage.
- Deep muscles: These muscles help in the movements of the vertebral column. These muscles are well-developed, and extend from the sacrum till the base of the skull. These muscles are responsible for controlling your posture.
The deep muscles are also called the intrinsic muscles as they develop in the back, while the intermediate and superficial muscles are called the extrinsic muscles as they do not develop in the back.
The Functionality of Each Muscle group
Our back is supported by some of the strongest, and most massive muscles in the body. These muscles have a high functionality as they determine your posture and allow you to maintain a balance. These muscles protect your spine and enable you to stand up straight. They also allow you to pull, reach, and extend your torso and arms. The functions and the range of movements of the important groups of back muscles are described beneath:
1. Latissimus Dorsi
The latissimus Dorsi are the largest muscles in the back. These muscles are responsible for the “V-taper” of your body because of the protruding appearance they have on the back of your ribs and under your armpits.
These muscles are the most commonly targeted by the lifters in the gym. They help you to pull, stretch, and reach out with your arms, and provide support to your body while performing a range of movements.
The trapezius muscles are situated between the neck and the shoulders. These muscles extend higher than the height of the clavicle or collarbone. Hence, they are easily noticeable from the frontal view.
The trapezius muscles include a complex set of muscles, which control the movements of the shoulder blades and play a role in neck movement, shrugging, and head support.
A well-developed trapezius muscle can ensure an excellent physique and prevent the neck and shoulder problems.
3. Erector Spinae
The erector spinae muscles line the spinal column from the lower back to the upper back. These muscles allow you to extend and flex your back in all the directions. They provide support to your vertebrae, and protect it from shocks and jerks. Thus, a stronger spinal erector muscles can help to improve your posture and ensure core stabilization.
The rhomboid muscle is located at the upper part of the back, underneath the trapezius. It originates from the vertebrae and is inserted into the scapulae.
This muscle is activated when you bring your shoulder blades together or try to squeeze them into each other.
5. Teres Major
Though Teres Major is a small muscle in the back, it is considered important since it allows a range of movements in the back. It works in conjunction with the Latissimus Dorsi group of muscles and the rotator cuff muscles. Its functions include rotating the arms inwards and pulling them downwards.
Exercises that Target the Upper Back Muscles
If you suffer from pain in the upper back, you can perform the simple exercises given below to strengthen the muscles in this region and get rid of the pain. Also take a look at the body weight back exercise article for additional exercises.
2. Resisted Shoulder Blade Squeeze
This exercise works out the shoulder blades and upper back muscles. You will need an elastic exercise material such as a resistance band to perform this exercise.
Begin with standing or sitting with your palms facing upward. Hold the band in your hands. Your elbows should be bent at right angles and placed close to the sides. Stretch the band by moving the arms in the opposite directions while squeezing the shoulder blades together. Relax and then, repeat the same 12 times.
Exercises that Target the Lower Back Muscles
Here are some exercises you can perform on a regular basis to relieve chronic lower back pain.
1. Dorsal Raise
Lie flat on the ground with you head facing downwards. Slowly lift your head and shoulders of the ground whilst keeping your hips and legs flat on the floor. Lift up until you feel the muscles of the lower back contract and then with control lower yourself back down to the ground. Your head should remain parallel to your body throughout the exercise.
2. Twist, Squat, and Lift
This exercise targets the deep muscles of the back, the obliques, quadriceps, and glutes. You will need a pound dumbbell to practice this exercise. To begin, stand with your feet about a hip-distance apart. Hold the dumbbell with both hands. Twist to your right while squatting down.
Push through your heels, and stand up straight as you bring the dumbbell back to the waist level. Twist and squat to keep the dumbbell behind your left foot. Stand back to the original posture to complete one repetition.
Practise these exercises on a regular basis to strengthen your back muscles and carry out your daily activities without any discomfort.