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Say Hello To Your Iliocostalis

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The erector spinae play a significant role in the development of a stronger, healthier person. Your erector spinae are the layers of muscle that run along both sides of your spine from your lower back all the way to your head. To more clearly define what our “core” consists of, your spinal erectors are a major player in a strong core. They aid in extension of our back, lateral flexion, and rotation. Simply put, our spinal erectors help us keep our backs straight during a dead lift in weight training or hold us steady in handstand in yoga.

The iliocostalis is part of the erector spinae group of muscles along the spine.

The erector spinae group is made up of three main muscles, the spinalis most medially next to the spine, the longissimus in the center the main muscles of the erector group, and the iliocostalis muscle is located laterally. When these muscles are tight or overused you are likely to feel discomfort in your back, ilium or sacrum.

What I have found working with a number of students with chronic hip and lower back pain, is after a while, the corresponding shoulder also destabilizes. So I have been looking to find what is connecting it all together.

The main attachment of the iliocostalis is to the ilium and ribs. Because of its lateral position, a tight iliocostalis can hitch your hip up, or bring the ribcage down toward the hip. If this movement becomes a long term dysfunction, the contracted iliocostalis may start to cause issues further up the line showing up in the shoulder or even the neck.

The thoracolumbar fascia also covers the erector spinae. This webbing covers the deep muscles of the back of your torso. According to Tom Myers (author of Anatomy Trains) this makes up the superficial back line. Now this is where it gets interesting.

The superficial back line consists of a line of fascia that starts at the plantar surface (bottom) of the foot and then it travels up the entire posterior (back) side of the body, moving up over the head and finishes at the brow bone. The function of this line is to extend the body. It brings the body into an erect an upright position and gives it strength.

However, if there is dysfunction somewhere along the fascia line with the pelvis, it will have implications and referrals to other parts of the body such as your shoulder. Using Myers’ theory, we see the correlation between the hip and shoulder through the connecting tissues of the iliocostalis and fascia.

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