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Erector Spinae Exercises (6 To Try)

<article> <section> <p><i>Erector spinae</i> might sound like a super villain or rare plant, but it’s actually an important set of back muscles. These muscles play a role in many different exercises and are responsible for movements including rotation, extension and hyperextension, and straightening of the back.</p> <p>Here we’ll show you how the erector spinae works, what these muscles do, and which exercises stabilize and strengthen the spinal erectors.</p> <p>Let’s start with the basics.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What is the erector spinae?</header> <p>The erector spinae is a set of three muscle groups that run along the left and right side of the spine. Also called the <i>spinal erectors</i>, they connect the entire back from the base of the skull to the bottom of the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">lower back</a>. They’re also a crucial part of your <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">core</a>, linking with the abdominal and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">oblique</a> muscles to stabilize and move the upper body.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="yoga-woman-back-outdoor-water-0217"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What is the action of the erector spinae muscles? </header> <p>The erector spinae muscles have two major functions.</p> <p> First, they straighten the back. When you bend over to touch your toes, the erector spinae muscles help you stand back up <sup>1</sup>. Strong spinal erectors allow you to lift items off the floor, useful for doing exercises like the deadlift or grabbing a heavy suitcase.</p> <p>Second, the erector spinae are responsible for lateral rotation of the spine <sup>1</sup>. These muscles—along with the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer"><i>latissimus dorsi</i></a> or lats—activate during exercises that twist your upper body. They also turn your head from side to side.</p> <p>Strong, stable spinal erectors keep our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">posture</a> aligned. Weak erector spinae can lead to lower back <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">pain</a> and posture-related issues including headaches, tension in the neck and shoulders, difficulty breathing, and more.</p> <p>The good news is there are several simple exercises you can do to stabilize and strengthen these muscles.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="yoga-active-balance-woman-0217"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What exercises work the erector spinae?</header> <p>It’s always best to train stability before strength. These three exercises improve stability of the spinal erectors:</p> <div class="sub-head">#1 Alternating Bird Dog</div> <ol> <li>Come onto all fours on the floor.</li> <li>Simultaneously extend your right arm in front of you and your left leg behind you.</li> <li>Return to the starting position, then switch to extend your left arm and right leg.</li> <li>Continue to alternate for 10 to 15 reps on each side.</li> </ol> <div class="sub-head">#2 Low Bear Crawl</div> <ol> <li>Drop down to your hands and knees on the floor.</li> <li>Plant your toes on the ground and lift your knees just a few inches off the floor.</li> <li>While maintaining a neutral spine, step forward with your left leg and right arm.</li> <li>Switch to step forward with your right leg and left arm, making sure to keep close to the ground.</li> <li>Do the crawl back and forth across the room several times.</li> </ol> <div class="sub-head">#3 Stand on One Leg</div> <p>To improve your balance and stability, try balancing on each leg. Shift your weight to your right foot and lift your left off the floor. Hold this pose for one minute. Keep your eyes up rather than looking at the ground. Switch to balance on the left. Once you’ve mastered the move—or if it’s too easy for you—try doing it with your eyes closed to challenge yourself even more.</p> <p>After working on stability, we need to strengthen the spinal erectors. These exercises will help you do just that:</p> <div class="sub-head">#1 Single-Leg Hip Hinge (or Deadlift)</div> <ol> <li>Stand with your feet under your hips and your hands on your waist.</li> <li>Shift the weight to your right foot and lift the left leg off the floor.</li> <li>Hinge at the hips to lower your torso forward and extend the left leg behind you. Keep the spine neutral to maintain a straight line from head to toe.</li> <li>Continue for 10 to 15 reps, then switch legs.</li> </ol> <div class="sub-head">#2 Suitcase Deadlift</div> <p>The deadlift is normally done with a barbell or dumbbells. To make this an <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">at-home</a> exercise, simply find a suitcase or other heavy item to deadlift.</p> <ol> <li>Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place a suitcase or other heavy object in front of you.</li> <li>Bend at the hips to lower your torso. Grab the suitcase.</li> <li>Press through your heels and squeeze your glutes and core to bring yourself up to standing. Bring the suitcase up in a straight line close to your legs.</li> <li>Hinge at the hips to lower the suitcase to the floor in the exact same way you raised it.</li> <li>Repeat for 10 to 15 reps.</li> </ol> <div class="sub-head">#3 Drinking Bird</div> <p>This move can be done as a bodyweight exercise or with a heavy object stacked on your shoulders.</p> <ol> <li>Stand with your feet at shoulder-width and hands interlocked behind your head. </li> <li>Hinge at the hips to lower your torso. Push your butt back towards the wall behind you and shift the weight to your heels. Stop when you feel a stretch in the back of your legs.</li> <li>Press the hips back forward and return to a locked standing position.</li> <li>Repeat for 10 to 15 reps.</li> </ol> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jp2"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="back-fitness-girl-stretch-0217"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Wrapping Up</header> <p>For good posture, a stable core, and a <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">pain-free</a> back, it’s crucial to give some attention to the erector spinae muscles. Start with stabilizing exercises, then advance to moves like the deadlift to strengthen your spinal erectors.</p> <p>We function at our best with full-body strength, so be sure to check out the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Fitness </a> page where we share advice and at-home exercises for a fit, healthy life!</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Erector Spinae Muscles</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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