Updated: May 23
The erector spinae muscle is composed of 3 muscles that from our lumbosacral area run towards the cervical area. Let's explore why we feel muscular pain and how we can help!
In particular, one muscle of this group, called longissimus thoracic, originates and innervates from the sacrum area and goes up to our cervical area, extending alongside the spine. Running next to the longissimus thoracic there is the iliocostalis lumborum, which innervates from the sacrum area and inserts on some of the costal ribs just under the scapula blade.
Thinking of the area of extension of these muscles, it is easy to understand why the tightness of our legs, hamstrings and middle glutes, will also compromise of the lumbar muscles, and therefore of the erector spinae muscle group.
In fact, as I mentioned in the last two articles I wrote, there is a domino effect triggered when the lower part of our body is suffering from contraction: the longissimus thoracic and the iliocostalis lumborum will also be affected and consequently a contraction will be caused in the upper part of our body too, as these muscles innervate from this area. In this case, we will start to have pain on the lower part of our scapular muscles, up to the upper trapezius and between the scapular blades, on the spine region.
Moreover – as underlined in the previous articles – muscle contractions, especially in these areas, often come from exercising without accompanying an appropriate stretching routine and from keeping a wrong posture, especially when sitting for long hours (ex. in the workplace). Additionally, high stress levels can also lead to a prolonged muscle contraction, even when our body is not making a physical effort.
It is very interesting to see that there are two different types of muscle contraction: when it comes from physical exercise, it will be much easier to release it using manual therapy; on the other hand, when the contraction comes from emotional distress, it will require a much longer process, as the muscles will not be as reactive as in the former situation.
Focusing on the emotional energy level, the area that gets firstly affected in this case is on the back, approximately in the area between the T8 to the T12 spine vertebrae.
In particular, one (or both) longissimus thoracic muscle gets firstly congested on the energy level, and then the muscle cells of these muscles start to suffer from stiffness (in the first level) and pain or even inflammation (in the advanced level). From these muscles, the tightness will l then start to irradiate to our lumbar region and to our neck and shoulders areas.
But why do heavy emotions make my muscles tighten up or contract?
The life force, prana, ki or electromagnetic force – however you prefer to call it – is the one that keeps our atoms, molecules, cells, etc. together, and this is the reason why our body is not just a paddle on the floor with some minerals in it. Every time we process or we absorb heavy thoughts or emotions, our cells get affected by the life force of these emotions and thoughts, and therefore our cells start to malfunction in a very short time if we don’t do anything about it.
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