Erector Spinae Muscle: Action, Origin & Insertion

Erector Spinae Muscle: Action, Origin & Insertion
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

Can you name one location in the body where the erector spinae muscles originate? If you did not know this answer and want to find out many more interesting facts about the erector spinae muscles, then you should definitely read this lesson!

Erector Spinae Muscles

Has your lower back ever hurt? If you are like the millions of people across the world who have suffered from low back pain, you answered a resounding 'yes' to this question.

Did you know that low back pain is often associated with the erector spinae muscles? The erector spinae muscles are a group of three muscles that are bundled together, which includes the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis muscles. Each of these muscles are then made up of three muscles of their own. Therefore, there are nine total muscles that make up the erector spinae muscle group. These muscles include:

  • Iliocostalis
    • Iliocostalis cervicis
    • Iliocostalis thoracis
    • Iliocostalis lumborum
  • Longissimus
    • Longissimus capitis
    • Longissimus cervicis
    • Longissimus thoracis
  • Spinalis
    • Spinalis capitis
    • Spinalis cervicis
    • Spinalis thoracis

Since there are nine total muscles that make up the erector spinae muscles, there are many points of origin and insertion associated with this muscle bundle. The following chart describes the points of origin and insertion for these various muscles.

It should be noted that in the chart C stands for cervical vertebrae (located in the neck), T stands for thoracic vertebrae (located between the neck and lower back), and L stands for lumbar vertebrae (located in the lower back). Additionally, the exact points of origin and insertion can differ from person to person.

Muscle Point(s) of Origin Point(s) of Insertion
Iliocostalis cervicis Ribs 3-6 C4-C6
Iliocostalis thoracis Ribs 7-12 Ribs 1-6
C7
Iliocostalis lumborum Iliac crest
Sacrum
T11-L5
Ribs 7-12
Longissimus capitis C4-C7
T1-T5
Mastoid process of the skull
Longissimus cervicis T1-T5 C2-C6
Longissimus thoracis L1-L5
Sacrum
Iliac crest
T1-T12
Ribs 3-12
Spinalis capitis C6 or C7 C2
Spinalis cervicis C6 or C7 C2
Spinalis thoracis T11-L3 T3-T8

Erector Spinae: Origin & Insertion

There are several actions of the erector spinae. These actions include:

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