How the rectus abdominis and the erector spinae keep you upright

How the rectus abdominis and the erector spinae keep you upright

Our muscles (such as the rectus abdominis), joints and bones allow us to live and perform everyday activities. The healthier our muscles, bones and joints are, the easier we will be able to go about our daily life. However, neglecting these vital components of your body can lead to serious injury that will make living comfortably a difficult task.

Your muscles are responsible for your movement

Muscles are made up of thousands of small fibres. Each muscle contains nerves, tendons and blood vessels. Various muscles can be involved in the contraction of various body parts. The human body is one incredible machine where thousands of different components all come together to perform one movement.

Some of the most important movements that your body does naturally – without you having to even think about – are:

  • Standing or sitting upright, and
  • Keeping good posture.

Several different muscles are involved in keeping you upright. Even though it may seem as a fairly simple movement, it is quite complex looking at just how many muscles – which work in unison – are involved to keep you standing:

  • Spine,
  • Back,
  • Abdominals,
  • Shoulders,
  • Neck,
  • Hips, and
  • Lower leg muscles.

For example, the muscles in your spine work together to keep your upper body upright. Your back muscles keep you upright by supporting the spine and allowing your upper body to move in different directions. Your abdominal muscles, together with your glutes and back muscles, help you bend, flex, rotate, arch and lift.

Two muscles that play the biggest role in keeping you upright are the rectus abdominis and the erector spinae.

The rectus abdominis is one of four muscles of the anterior abdominal wall and is more commonly known as your abs or abdominal muscles. The rectus abdominis not only assists in supporting your spine to help you stay upright but has other functions like:

  • Assisting with breathing, and
  • Supporting the pelvis to allow your legs to function properly.

The area between your ribcage and your pelvis is the least-supported by bone (only the spine), and it is therefore important that we keep the rectus abdominis strong to be able to carry and support our upper body, and connect the upper body to the lower body.

The most common way to strengthen the rectus abdominis is by performing the situp. You can also add variations to this exercise by adding weights on your feet, or by adding a twisting movement. Strengthening your abdominal muscles will also strengthen your core, back muscles and your spine.

The erector spinae is made up of three muscle groups or columns:

  • Iliocostalis,
  • Longissimus, and
  • Spinalis.

This muscle group is located on both sides of the vertebrae along the posterior spine. These muscles directly affect  the lumbar, thoracic and cervical segments of the vertebrae.

The erector spinae is responsible for keeping the back extended and enables the spine to rotate. The erector spinae also maintains correct curvature in the spine. This means that it directly affects our posture and should be exercised, strengthened and stretched regularly. Weak erector spinae muscles can also cause a lot of back pain.

To strengthen your erector spinae, consider doing a variety of back extension exercises. Regularly stretch the erector spinae with lower-back stretches and by arching your back.

The rectus abdominis and erector spinae are only two of hundreds of muscles that play a role in keeping us upright have having a good posture. It is vitally important to keep these muscles strong and flexible to avoid injuries and constant pain. If you want to learn more about how the muscles of our bodies function, sign up for Trifocus Fitness Academy India’s Exercise Science Certification. Follow this link to find out more.

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