Back Muscles Aching?

With the longer days of summer here those amongst us that engage with warm weather sporting activities or spend time working in the garden may experience backache. This can be a simple result of overwork of muscles not normally used such as in bending, stretching and twisting add to this lifting, pulling and overreaching and you have the perfect recipe for an aching back. Muscles are designed to work to enabling movement. Muscle tissue has the ability to contract ( to shorten and thicken in response to stimuli ) to extend (lengthen, stretch ) to receive messages and respond to stimuli and the ability to return to its original shape (elasticity).There are three types of muscle Visceral involuntary, non-striated smooth muscles found in the walls of hollow internal structures blood vessels, bladder, stomach. Cardiac-involuntary striated that form the walls of the heart and Skeletal- voluntary, striated attached to bones. Checking in my Gray’s (1) there are 5 layers of muscles in the back. 1. Superficial muscle Trapezius which draws head back, draws shoulders together rotates the inferior angle of scapula laterally, raises shoulder, draws scapula backwards and Latissimus dorsi that adducts the shoulder and draws the arm backwards and downwards. 2. Levator anguli scapulae assists the trapezius in bearing weights or shrugging the shoulders. Rhomboideus minor and major act together to draw scapula backward toward the spine.3. Serratus posticus (respiratory muscles) superior elevates the ribs and Serratus inferior draws the lower ribs down and back .  Splenius capitis and coli draw the head from side to side help support head in erect position. 4. Erector spinae (outer column consists of iliocostalis, musculus accessories, cervicalis ascendens. Middle column consists of longissimus dorsi, tranversalis cervicis, trachelo-mastoid. Inner column consist of spinalis dorsi) This muscle varies in width as it runs the length of the spine its function is to keep the trunk erect. 5. Semispinalis dorsi, semisplinalis colli, multifindus spinea, rotatores spinae, supraspinalis, interspinalis exterior coccyygis, intertransversales, rectus capitis posticus major ,rectus capitas posticus minor, obliquus capitis inferior, obliquus capitis superior. Whilst most of these muscles are rarely taught at level 3 Anatomy & Physiology advanced study knowledge including nerve supply to these muscles is useful when treating back problems. The final muscles to mention are Gluteus maximus (2) which raises trunk to erect position from stooping or sitting, gluteus medius and minimus assist gluteus maximus. The Psoas muscle that flexes hip joint and trunk on lower extremities. The piriformis muscle (3) is located partially on the posterior wall of the lesser pelvis and partially posterior to the hip joint. The muscle originates from several locations in the pelvis, passes through the greater sciatic notch, and inserts on the superior aspect of the greater trochanter. Piriformis syndrome (often mis-diagnosed as sciatica) occurs when the piriformis muscle presses on the sciatic nerve. It causes pain or numbness in your butt, hip or upper leg. The main factor in treating issues of the muscular system is the role of the nervous system. The spinal cord lies within the protection of the spinal vertebrae. The ventral root  ( efferent  motor signals from brain to muscles) and dorsal root  (afferent sensory signals to brain) branch off separately from the spinal cord then merge together to create the spinal nerve. From there, the spinal nerve branches into a network of nerves that innervate its dermatome (for sensations) and myotome (for motor controls). The medically accepted existence of dermatomes and myotomes offers one explanation of the action of Clinical Reflexology. Add in a working knowledge of acupuncture it’s meridians and trigger points and you have a very effective method of treatment. If you have a stiff or aching muscles why not try Clinical Reflexology. Take an Epsom Salts bath, use Arnica cream externally on strained muscles and try Rhus Tox or Nux Vom ( Always check with your pharmacist before taking homoeopathic/herbal remedies if taking GP medications )

  1. Gray’s Anatomy p336-350
  2. Anatomy and Physiology for Nurses. Evelyn C Pearce  4th ed 1935 Butler & Tanner GB Frome & London  pg 78-82
  3. .NHS website.