Heavy Lifting and Back Injuries

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When you are fully bent over forward, as in touching your toes, the erector spinae is fully stretched. Because of the length-tension relationship explained in chapter 11, muscles that are stretched to such extremes cannot contract very effectively. Standing up from such a position is therefore initiated by the hamstring muscles on the back of the thigh and the gluteus maximus of the buttocks. The erector spinae joins in the action when it is partially contracted.

Saladin: Anatomy & Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function, Third Edition

350 Part Two Support and Movement

Superficial muscles

Deep muscles

Sternocleidomastoid Trapezius

Deltoid

Sternocleidomastoid Trapezius

Deltoid

Latissimus dorsi

Trapezius Stretch

Gluteus maximus

Figure 10.17 Neck, Back, and Gluteal Muscles. The most superficial muscles are shown on the left, and the next deeper layer on the right.

Latissimus dorsi

External abdominal oblique

Thoracolumbar fascia

Semispinalis capitis

Splenius capitis

Levator scapulae Rhomboideus minor Rhomboideus major Supraspinatus Infraspinatus Teres minor Teres major

Serratus anterior

Serratus posterior inferior

External abdominal oblique

Internal abdominal oblique

Erector spinae Gluteus medius

Gluteus maximus

Figure 10.17 Neck, Back, and Gluteal Muscles. The most superficial muscles are shown on the left, and the next deeper layer on the right.

Standing too suddenly or improperly lifting a heavy weight, however, can strain the erector spinae, cause painful muscle spasms, tear tendons and ligaments of the lower back, and rupture intervertebral discs. The lumbar muscles are adapted for maintaining posture, not for lifting. This is why it is important, in heavy lifting, to kneel and use the powerful extensor muscles of the thighs and buttocks to lift the load.

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