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The spinal segments of the vertebral column
1 Credit

Lesson 18: The Spine and Trunk Muscles

Functional anatomy of the spine and trunk muscles. Joint actions, location, and pictures of the spine. A description of the parts of the spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum, coccyx). Anatomy, location, and exercises for the abs/core muscles (rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, multifidus, erector spinae, and QL).

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Course Description: Spine Joint Actions & Trunk Muscles

This course describes the landmarks and basic anatomy of the spine (vertebral column) and pelvis, the joint actions of the spine and motions of the pelvis, as well as an introduction to the spine and trunk muscles. The joints of the spine include the zygapophysial joints and vertebral disks, the joints of the pelvis include the sacroiliac joint (SIJ) and pubic symphysis, and the joints of the ribcage include the costovertebral joints at the thoracic spine and the sternocostal joints at the sternum.

The muscles covered include the rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, psoas, multifidus, quadratus lumborum (QL), and latissimus dorsi. This course includes a discussion of the joint actions, the contributing muscles, and practical examples of common exercises. For example, a chop pattern is primarily trunk rotation, which is the result of increased muscle activity of the external obliques, internal obliques, ipsilateral erector spinae, and contralateral multifidus. The abdominal crunch is an example of trunk flexion, and the result of force generated by the rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques, and psoas. And, supermans include trunk extension, resulting from an isometric contraction of the multifidus, erector spinae, and potentially the latissimus dorsi. Note, the muscles of the trunk, are also referred to as “core muscles” and play an important role in maintaining optimal posture and optimal arthrokinematics of the trunk, pelvis, and ribcage.

Sports medicine professionals (personal trainers, fitness instructors, physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, etc.) must know the anatomy and function of the trunk muscles and vertebral column for the analysis of human movement, and the development of sophisticated exercise programs and therapeutic (rehabilitation) interventions. Further, this course is essential knowledge for future courses discussing detailed anatomy like neural innervations (e.g. sacral plexus, femoral nerve, sciatic nerve), synergistic function of muscles (e.g. recruitment of trunk and hip muscles for spine stability), injury (e.g. low back pain, altered muscle activity, atrophy of the posterior muscles of the spine), and sports performance (e.g. best programming for optimizing trunk muscle strength and/or trunk muscle power).

The spinal segments of the vertebral column
Caption: The spinal segments of the vertebral column

Study Guide: The Spine and Trunk Muscles

Video Lesson: The Spine


The Spine


Video Lesson: Trunk Muscles

1 sub-categoryvideo

External Obliques

2 sub-categories

Rectus Abdominis

2 sub-categories

Internal Obliques

2 sub-categories

Transverse Abdominis

2 sub-categories

Erector Spinae

2 sub-categories


2 sub-categories

Quadratus Lumborum

2 sub-categories


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