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Iliocostalis Stretch

Relevant anatomy

Iliocostalis is the most lateral component of the erector spinae muscle. Its fascicles are attached to sites that are homologous with the ribs. It assists in extending the back and bending sideward. It arises from the tendinous mass covering the sacrum just lateral to the spinalis dorsi and the longissimus dorsi, but is not contingent with those two, being somewhat separated from them. It has three parts.


  1. The first, the lumborum, arises from the the fascia that covers the sacrum, and inserts onto the lower or inferior borders of the  lower six or seven ribs.
  2. The second part, the thoracis, has fibers that arise from the upper borders of the lower six ribs just medial to where the lumbar fibers insert, and it inserts on the upper borders of the top six ribs and onto the transverse process of the lowest cervical vertebrae.
  3. The third part, the cervicis, has fibers which arise from the third through sixth ribs and insert onto the transverse processes of the fourth through sixth cervical vertebrae.

When done with incorrect posture, simple daily tasks, such as housecleaning, gardening, lifting heavy objects, and exercising, can cause tightness in back muscles. Poor posture includes slouching in chairs, sitting in hunched-back positions, standing in non-upright positions, and keeping the knees straight when lifting. All these actions lead to tight muscles by either overworking or overstretching the back muscles. Two other common reasons for tight back muscles are conscious psychological stress and subconscious repressed emotions. Stress causes back muscles to tighten in a fight or flight response, thus overworking the muscles and depriving them of energy needed to support the spine. In the short term, back stretching exercises reduce these problems by reducing stress. In the long term, these exercises make the back muscles stronger and longer and thus reduce the possibilities of overworking and overstretching.

 
Iliocostalis stretch side lying
Iliocostalis stretch side lying
 

Iliocostalis stretch side lying

  • Lie on side, pillow placed between lower ribs and hips.
  • Raise arm over head as shown.
  • Breathe evenly allowing the muscles between the ribs to stretch hold the stretch for few seconds.
  • Repeat with other side.

 
Iliocostalis stretch kneeling
Iliocostalis stretch kneeling
 

Iliocostalis stretch kneeling

  • Kneel on heels to stabilize hips.
  • Lean forward, arms over head, as shown.
  • Slowly walk hands to the side until stretch is felt hold the stretch for few seconds.
  • Repeat to other side.

 
Iliocostalis stretch standing
Iliocostalis stretch standing
 

Iliocostalis stretch standing

  • Stand against wall.
  • Cross arms overhead.
  • Bend trunk to side, keeping shoulders and arms against wall.
  • Keep both feet on floor hold the stretch for few seconds.
  • Return to start position and bend to opposite.
  • Repeat to other side.