What muscles support the spine?

Personal/Fitness Training Blog

You often don’t think about how important your spine is until you start having back pain, which renders you useless to perform simple tasks like lifting something.

Your spine supports your entire skeletal system. Hurt it in the wrong place and you could lose control over some parts of your body, like your arms and legs.

In order to support your skeleton, the spine is supported by 140 overlapping and interconnected muscle groups.

There are three types of back muscles.

  1. Extensor muscles

These muscles are attached to the back of the spine and enable standing and lifting objects.

  1. Flexor muscles

These muscles are attached to the front of the spine and enable flexing, bending forward, lifting, as well as arching your lower back.

  1. Oblique muscles

These muscles are attached to the sides of the spine and help you rotate the spine and maintain a good posture.

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These three categories are made up of various other muscles that control specific functions of the spine.

Intertransverse muscles

Intertransverse muscles help you bend from side to side.

Interspinal muscles

Interspinal muscles help you bend forward and backwards. They are the deepest level of your muscle layers.

Rotator muscles

Rotator muscles help you turn your bottom.

Erector spinae

These are two big muscles that lie over the three muscle groups. They run down the sides of your spine and keep you from falling forward. They keep you upright and also take on most of the stress your spine experiences daily.

Latissimus dorsi

These muscles enable you to move your arms and work with the erector spinae to support your spine. The latissimus dorsi is a large, wing-like muscle on either side of your back. They help to stabilise your back and enable you to do pull-ups.


The trapezius helps to move your neck and lift your shoulder blades. They extend from your neck to your shoulders.


Abdominal muscles support the lower regions of your spine.

Transversus abdominis

These muscles wrap around your body like a corset and help you bend and twist. These form a chevron-like pattern along the back of your spine.

Iliopsoas muscles

These are hip and thigh flexor muscles. They lift the thighs as you walk or climb.


These muscles help to stabilise you when you are sitting in an upright position. They extend from your lower back, across the front of each hip to the inside-top of the thigh bone.


These muscles are situated between your shoulder blades and help to realign your vertebrae.

 All of these muscles overlap and connect to each other in layers. These layers ensure that the muscles provide the most protection for the spine. They also enable the most sufficient operations. Each muscle has a specific function, whether it is to make your back bend forward, backwards or sideways, to rotate it or to support it when lifting something heavy.

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