back anatomy

Back Anatomy

Muscle Anatomy Exercise

Back Anatomy – Overview | Back Anatomy Workout | Upper back Anatomy Development | Lower back Anatomy | Do you suffer from low back pain? | Causes & Treatment

The main muscles of the back are latissimus dorsi (also known as the lats), rhomboidstrapezius, erector spinae, teres major and infraspinatus muscle.

Middle Back Anatomy – Latissimus Dorsi

Middle Back Anatomy - Latissimus Dorsi

The lats muscle, whose name means “broadest muscle of the back,” is one of the widest muscles in the human body. It is a very thin triangular muscle that is not used strenuously in common daily activities but is an important muscle in many exercises such as pull-ups, chin-ups, swimming and lat pulldowns, etc.

Back Anatomy Workout/Exercises:

• Straight Arm
• Wide grip lat pulldown
• Underhand lat pulldown
• V-Bar pulldown
• DB Pullover
• Cable lat pulldown

Upper Back Anatomy – Rhomboids

 Upper Back Anatomy - Rhomboids

The rhomboids combined by two muscles that are Rhomboideus major and Rhomboideus minor, located on the upper portion of the back, underneath the trapezius. They originate from the vertebrae and insert into the scapulae. The skeletal muscle is activated as you bring and squeeze your os or shoulder blades back and along. There are many exercises for targeting the rhomboids group which seated rows, t-bar rows, bent over barbell rows and one-arm rows, etc.

Back Anatomy Workout/Exercises:

Incline Pull-ups
• Rear Delt Flys
• Prone lateral raise
• Front raise thumbs up/dumbbells
• Resistance bands pullback
• Scapular wall slides

Upper Back Anatomy – Trapezius

Upper Back Anatomy - Trapezius

The musculus trapezius is one in all the most important muscles of the rear and is answerable for moving, rotating, and helpful the os (shoulder blade) and increasing the pinnacle at the neck, It is a good, flat, superficial muscle that covers most of the higher back and therefore the posterior of the neck. Like most other muscle, there is two trapezius – left and right trapezius – that are symmetrical and meet at the vertebral column.

Back Anatomy Workout/Exercises:

Barbell Shrugs
• Plate Shrugs
• DB Shrugs
• Machine shrugs
• Farmer Walk 
• Barbell Upright Rows
• Rope Upright rows
• Shrugs on an incline bench (chest facing down)

Back anatomy spine (Erector spinae (Lower Back Anatomy))

Back anatomy spine (Erector spinae (Lower Back Anatomy))

Erector spinae muscle consists of three muscle spinalis, longissimus, and iliocostalis, each running parallel on either outer side of the and extending from the lower back of the skull all the way down to the Pelvis.

Back Anatomy Workout/Exercises:

Back Raises
• Conventional deadlift
• Stiff leg deadlift
• Good morning exercise
• Reverse Back Extension

Upper Back Anatomy – Teres Major & Minor

Teres is a Latin word that means round and smooth or cylindrical. The teres major muscle is a thick muscle of the shoulder joint, and it assists the latissimus dorsi in drawing the previously raised humerus downward and backward.

 Upper Back Anatomy - Teres Major & Minor

Back Anatomy Workout/Exercises:

One-Arm Dumbbell Row
• Horizontal Rotation
• Cable row
• Bent over barbell row
• Pull up
• Chin-up
• High row
• T-
bar row

Upper Back Anatomy – Infraspinatus

The Infraspinatus muscle is one of the rotator cuff muscle. Because of the lack of inferior stability, most dislocations or subluxations occur in the direction.


Incline Bench DB raise (chest facing down)
• Bent forward DB raise
• Bent forward Cable
• External
rotation Exercises

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Upper Back Anatomy Explained in Details

Upper Back Anatomy Explained in Details

The medical name for the upper or middle back Anatomy is the thoracic spine and it has a very different role to play when compared to either the lower back, which in medical terms is known as the lumbar spine or the neck, known as the cervical spine. These latter two are designed for mobility. However, our thoracic spine has a very different function. It is extremely strong and unmoving therefore not only protecting our vital organs such as lungs, heart, and liver but also giving us the means to stand up.

neck back anatomy

Because the thoracic spine has these qualities of strength and immobility there tends to be low risk when it comes to disc degeneration or injury in the upper back with aging. Most problems pertaining to this area which in turn cause pain, are joint dysfunction and muscular irritation. Perhaps there has been an injury to the upper back, this could include such conditions as a thoracic herniated disc or degenerated disc which cause such related back pain, but these injuries are.

Whilst researching for this article I found some very interesting information written by Mark Yezac, DC of Spine-Health. He writes “Occasionally, the pain felt within the pectoral spine are often a signal of an additional serious underlying sickness or downside.

Both contractor diseases and non-orthopedic conditions (such as a cancerous tumor exerting pressure on the spine) can cause higher back pain, furthermore as sure diseases of the heart, lungs, abdominal organs, or kidneys.”

The actual anatomy of the thoracic spine is as follows:

There are twelve vertebrae at the center of the spine and the attached ribs make up the thoracic spine. If you were to look at this from the side you would see that this area curves in towards the chest slightly i.e. it is concave.

back anatomy - thoracic spine

These ribs are attached to your breastbone (also known as the sternum). This then creates the thoracic cage and as I mentioned before, its function is to protect the vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and liver. It also creates a protected space for our lungs to expand and contract for respiration.

Because of the manner in which these particular nine ribs curve around from the spinal column and attach to the sternum at the front, this means that the whole area is incredibly immobile. The three lower ribs don’t attach at the front and allow for slightly more movement but still do the job of protecting the vital organs.

Common spinal disorders are degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and herniated discs and these conditions can cause chronic back pain but because the thoracic spine is built for stability and immobility as outlined above, these disorders are mostly found in the lower (or lumbar) back and are quite rarely reported in the thoracic area of the spine.

Surgery is rarely an option as a treatment for upper back pain and any CT or MRI scans tend to reinforce this. Main causes, therefore, seem mostly to be either joint dysfunction or muscular irritation and any related treatment will need to be based on this diagnosis.

Back Development – Why You May Be Lacking It

Back development, a complex issue that takes a complex approach. This is a point most trainers are only mildly aware of. Not being knowledgeable enough in the back they train it like they would their chest which in comparison is rather simple.

The back is actually comprised of a number of muscle groups that must be directly addressed to be successful at creating a complete back with width, density, and separation between the individual muscle groups that coexist there. Complete back development is a hallmark that tells others you know what you are doing, because proper back training is hard, exhausting, uncomfortable, and can be as intimidating as leg training.

Training this body part takes an exceptional mind/muscle link that must be sustained throughout the entire set of each exercise and you must know what part of the back you are trying to target on any given movement. Back development cannot be attained by using general catchall exercises, the result will be a lackluster, unbalanced look.

The muscle groups involved in the back complex are as follows. Upper and middle Trapezius, posterior deltoid, teres major, rhomboids, upper and lower latissimus dorsi, and spinal erectors. That is eight different muscle groups, albeit the upper and lower lats and traps work together in some exercises but they cannot be totally developed by just doing these exercises, they need direct targeting in the right order of an exercise sequence.

Reasons for failure in back development are as follows. Ignorance of what exercises actually work what part of the back, not realizing the back actually consist of individual muscle groups inhabiting a concentrated area, using too much weight in very poor form, not being able to see the back while training, having a zero mind/muscle link, and an inability to feel the target muscles working.

Starting with width and that is where you should start, there are various types of chins and pulldowns. While wide grip chins are touted as superior to wide grip pulldowns, I beg to differ as most people do not possess the strength necessary to maintain proper body and arm position, especially on the last reps of a hard set, instead the movement turns into a free for all as they attempt to get themselves up close to the chin bar.

And if you are going to use one of those weight assisted machines to displace some of your bodyweight you might as well just do pulldowns anyway. Do not look at pulldowns as a wimpy second choice reserved for weaklings, instead, it allows you to pull weight through a very controlled movement and custom target the back muscles, something that is very hard to do with chins. You control the speed of the positive and negative aspects of the exercise as well as where you want the bar to touch in the contracted position, thus allowing concentrated emphasis on the specific area you are trying to build.

There is less difficulty maintaining proper body position and form right to the last rep even if a loss of full range occurs in the later reps, as this seems to be something unique to back or pulling exercises due to bicep fatigue.

Wide grip pulldowns work to widen the upper lats while close parallel grip pulldowns work to widen the lower lats which lie underneath and below the upper lats. Barbell rows thicken the upper lats while T bar row thickens the lower lats. Seated cable row seem to do a cross of both upper and lower widening and thickening and should be done closer to the end of a back workout.

All of these exercises work the rear deltoids and trapezius but don’t depend on them to build these areas up as they just work along with the other back muscles. If you want well developed rear deltoids and traps do isolated rear delt and trap work first in your workout followed by wide behind the neck pulldowns before starting back dimension coaching so following with back thickness coaching.

Proper form is essential to developing the back to a high level. With wide pulldowns, the lower back must remain arched and the chest kept high, going from a full stretch with arms straight to bringing the arms down ending with elbows behind the body so the lats can completely contract. On the close grip, pulldowns keep the lower back arched and chest-high pulling straight down from the fully stretched straight arm position.

Use enough weight to work the lats but not so much that it pulls you out of proper body position, forcing you to lower your chest, round your lower back and shoulders, and bring your elbows forward in front of your body as you try to touch the bar to your chest. If this happens you are wasting your time and effort.

On free weight and T bar rows keep bent over and don’t begin raising up because the weight gets more durable to row.

Stay at a ninetieth angle on free weight rows and forty-fifth angle on T bar rows and as you row pull the load up and back, creating it slide up the front of your thighs till you create contact together with your pelvis. On barbell rows remain still while pulling the weight and on T bar row your body will have to move with the weights ascent being that one end of the bar is attached to a stationary structure. Do not do T bar rows with one end of a barbell if the other end is not secured due to the risk that the dead-end may slide forward and pull you over and injure your lower back.

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On seated cable rows forget the B.S. about learning all the way forward first before you begin rowing. Reach forward with your lower back arched and protected and legs bent, then after you have a hold of the close parallel handles push yourself back with your legs and keep a slight bend in your knees. Keep your lower back arched, knees slightly bent, body upright, chest high. With arms straight pull the handles toward you until your hands touch your hips with elbows behind the body and contract all the back muscles then slowly let the weight return to the straight arm while maintaining lower back, chest, and vertical positions.

A bonus tip on trap training, don’t pile lots of plates on a bar and start pulling it up and down with your arms bent, a waste of time and effort. Shrugging is a short movement and the usual way I see people doing them takes even half of that range away.

Stand in front of a low pulley with a pulldown bar, stand erect with arms completely straight, shrug the weight up smoothly until you completely contract your traps then slowly lower the weight using only trap strength. If you do rear delt work then this type of shrugs and follow them with behind neck pulldowns you will have well-developed traps without the hassle of the macho less effective way.

The reason you must go to this much trouble is that you cannot watch your back as you work it and even though it is very important to feel any muscle group you are working, that goes double for back.

Look at photos of well-developed backs and study where each muscle group is and when you are using an exercise designed to target a specific area, mentally focus in your mind’s eye on the extension and contraction of every rep of every set.

Stand in a three-way mirror and do a double bicep pose and try to locate and control the contraction of the different areas of your back to program in your mind where they are, how to contact them, and how they feel when you do contract them so that when you are training them you will get them to give their all to your efforts.

I did not mention lower back training as the lower back works pretty hard during the row potion on upper back training and it would be foolhardy to do additional direct work to it on back day and then make it work in a compromised state on leg day, if you are splitting your muscle groups into different workouts this will lead to injury. It is better advised to work lower back last with stiff-legged deadlifts when you train your hamstrings.

This way your lower back can remain strong in its major role working with the abdominals to stabilize the upper body on heavy thigh training and when that is past then you can safely train it directly. Remember it takes the lower back longer to recover from training than any other muscle group when it is targeted directly so be intelligent about it.

If you follow these quidelines you should see improved development in your back, letting others know that you know what you are doing.

Low Back Pain: Causes and Treatments

Do you suffer from low back pain?

Lower back pain is a common complaint. Clients regularly mischaracterize their pain and misdiagnose themselves due to not being properly educated about anatomical landmarks and different types of pain. I will discuss some basic anatomical landmarks that will help a layperson more precisely understand the actual body parts being discussed. I will also describe some different commonly-used descriptive words for pain that can allow you to properly differentiate your pain sensation.

I may not have worded it very simply, but it is a simple process I will walk you through. First I am talking about your lower back body parts, then about pain itself, and then we will put it together and maybe end this article with you able to figure out which part of your lower back is actually bothering you and why. Once you know that you will be better equipped to develop a plan to get out of pain.

Back Anatomy Bones

The backbone is divided into two main parts;

  1. The spine
  2. Back muscle

The spine is made up of a bone called vertebra.

This vertebra is divided into five back anatomy bones which include:

1. Neckbone: They are also called cervical vertebra and are seven in number. They are usually assigned as follows; C1, C2, C3… C7.

2. Chest bone: They are also called thoracic vertebra and are twelve in number. They are assigned as follows; T1, T2, T3…T12.

3. Waist bone: They are also called lumbar vertebra and are five in number. They are assigned as follows; L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5 respectively.

4. Sacrum bone: They are also called sacral vertebra but are five in number and fused together. They are assigned as follows; S1, S2, S3, S4, and S5 respectively.

5. Tail bone: They are found below the hip or waist region. They are four in number and these four bones are fixed together.

These vertebrae are joined together by the facet joints. A disc separates the vertebra, these discs act as cushions in between the vertebra and absorb shocks and vibrations which are produced when sitting, jumping, walking, etc. The function is to allow the spine to bend to any direction it desires.

Nerves are like branches of trees connecting the brain with the spinal cord, carrying messages from the brain to the muscles, limbs, and organs. These nerves also carry sensations such as pains from different part of the body to the brain. The spine is linked to the hip by the sacroiliac joints an immovable or fixed joint.

The back is a compact and big organ which has nerves moving everywhere. The human back anatomy is the powerhouse of the entire body, supporting the trunk and making the movement of the head, arms, and legs possible.

Conditions which will cause low back pain and need treatment by a medico or alternative health specialist include:

Bulging disc (also referred to as projected, herniated, or busted disc). As discs degenerate and weaken, animal tissue will bulge or be pushed into the house containing the neural structure or a nerve root, inflicting pain.

Studies have shown that the majority of herniated discs occur within the lower, body part portion of the rachis.

A much a lot of serious complication of a busted disc is complex body part equina syndrome, that happens once disc material is pushed into the epithelial duct and compresses the bundle of the body part

Permanent medical specialty harm might result if this syndrome is left untreated. Sciatica could be a condition during which a herniated or busted disc presses on the nervus, the massive nerve that extends down the rachis to its exit purpose in the pelvis and carries nerve fibers to the leg.

This compression causes shock-like or burning low back pain combined with pain through the buttocks and down one leg to below the knee, sometimes reaching the foot. In the most extreme cases, once the nerve is pinched between the disc associated an adjacent bone, the symptoms involve not pain however symptom and a few loss of motor control over the leg because of the interruption of nerve communication.

The condition can also be caused by a neoplasm, cyst, pathologic process malady, or degeneration of the nervus root. Spinal degeneration from disc wear and tear will result in a narrowing of the epithelial duct. A person with spinal degeneration might expertise stiffness within the back upon arousal or might feel pain once walking or standing for an extended time.

Spinal stricture associated with noninheritable narrowing of the bony canal predisposes some individuals to pain associated with disc malady.

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Osteoporosis could be a metabolic bone malady marked by a progressive decrease in bone density and strength. Fracture of brittle, porous bones within the spine and hips results once the body fails to supply new bone and/or absorbs too much existing bone. Women square measure fourfold a lot of possible than men to develop pathology.

Caucasian ladies of northern European heritage square measure at the best risk of developing the condition.

Skeletal irregularities produce strain on the vertebrae and supporting muscles, tendons, ligaments, and tissues supported by the spinal column.

These irregularities embrace spinal curvature, a bowed of the spine to the side; spinal curvature, during which the traditional curve of the higher back is severely rounded; hollow-back, associate abnormally accentuated arch within the lower back; back extension, a bending backward of the spine; and back flexion, during which the spine bends forward.

Fibromyalgia could be a chronic disorder characterized by widespread contractor pain, fatigue, and multiple “tender points,” notably within the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips.

Additional symptoms might embrace sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, and anxiety. Spondylitis refers to chronic back pain and stiffness caused by a severe infection to or inflammation of the spinal joints.

Other painful inflammations within the lower back embrace osteitis (infection within the bones of the spine) and sacroiliitis (inflammation within the sacroiliac joints).

While these are the most common causes of low back pain, it is important to note that in approximately 80 percent of cases the ailment often occurs with no diagnosed underlying medical cause. In order to arrive at a diagnosis, your physician may order any or all of the following medical tests


An x-ray will show the bones of the spine and determine if there are significant wear and tear or disease of the bone. It will also show whether the bones are lined up properly.

Computed Tomography (CT):

A CT (also known as a CAT scan) uses an x-ray and a computer to generate images of the spine in slices. The CT shows the anatomy of the spine in nice detail. It also clarifies the relationship of the disc or bone spurs to the spinal cord and nerves.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):

The MRI uses a powerful magnetic field rather than x-rays to produce a detailed anatomical picture of the spine and the structures within. It is probably the best test to see herniated discs since they are soft tissue that is invisible to x-rays.


A myelogram is an x-ray picture taken with a special dye injected into the spinal sac to highlight the spinal cord and nerves. The dye is usually injected into the spine with a needle and then the x-rays are obtained. Myelograms have largely been replaced by CT and MRI scans

Electromyogram and Nerve Conduction Studies (EMG/NCS):

Unlike the other tests, which help reveal anatomy and structure, these tests primarily study how the nerve and muscles are actually working together. They test for the impulse coming from the brain and/or spinal cord. If the impulse is blocked somewhere, it may be delayed or diminished en route to its final destination (i.e., muscle, skin, toe, finger-tips). This information can assist in determining which nerves or muscles are functioning abnormally


This is a special x-ray test that may help identify which discs are damaged and if they are a source of pain. It uses a contrast dye injected into the disc space to image the disc.

Because of the difficulty of properly diagnosing the specific cause of low back pain, determining the best course of treatment for any particular patient can be a challenge. Research indicates that 90 percent of back pain sufferers get better without aggressive medical treatment.

For most, rest, over-the-counter medicinal drug medications, massage, and warmth (or cold) treatments square measure ample.

For the small percentage for whom surgery is the best option, recent advances have made pain-relieving procedures far safer and effective than ever; however, the potential benefits must always be weighed against the inherent risks of surgery.

The use of narcotic pain killers like Vicodin (hydrocodone) and Percocet and OxyContin (oxycodone) to treat back pain has become a hotly-debated issue in the medical community. For pain sufferers for whom less aggressive treatments have failed, the drugs may provide their only relief from near-constant discomfort or agony. On the other hand, the use of narcotics always entails the risk of dependence or addiction. With the development of more potent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), fewer and fewer doctors are treating chronic back-pain patients with narcotic medications

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