The erector spinae muscles are the group of narrow muscles that run either side of the spine, from the base of the skull, all the way down to the pelvis. They aid in spinal extension, lateral flexion, and rotation; but their main function is to hold the spine straight and upright against the weight of gravity.
If these muscles become tight because of posture or over-exercise, then the shape of the spine can be effected, and one (or more) of a huge range of secondary symptoms can be caused. Symptoms like:
Because of the anatomy of the erector spinae muscles, and the presence of these secondary symptoms, treating tight erector spinae muscles can be difficult. The best course of action is to PREVENT erector spinae tightness.
There are 2 very common ways that the erector spinae muscles become tight:
Prevention for both of these types of erector spinae tightness is quite simple: avoid those tasks which cause over-use or compensation.
For anterior head carriage, avoid sitting for more than 30min at a time. Get up and walk around as frequently as possible, and leave your phone at the desk! You can also try these stretches and exercises:
If you're prone to over-loading your back at the gym, invest in a personal trainer! It's a PT's job to make sure your techniques is perfect, to avoid injury. If you get a good PT, they'll pick up on poor form before injury happens.
If you're reading this too late, and you have very tight erector spinae muscles, you want to heat and release! Use a heat pack for 20min every 2 hours, and get long, firm massages. Acupuncture and dry-needling are quite effective*, and can be especially useful if you can't handle a hard back massage.
For more information on back pain, email me directly via the contact page. For specific information on an injury you have, or for treatment, contact one of my clinics directly. You can find that information here.
*Wellington J. Noninvasive and alternative management of chronic low back pain (efficacy and outcomes). Neuromodulation. 2014 October;17 Suppl 2:24-30
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Dr Mitch Clark