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Muscles of the Torso Major muscles in the midsection of the body include the erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and the transversus abdominis. These muscles provide support and stability for the lumbar or weight-bearing area of the vertebral column. Having adequate strength and flexibility in these muscles enhances postural alignment and reduces risk of low-back problems. Erector spinae (e-REK-tor SPI-ne) The erector spinae muscle is located in the back, along the entire length of the vertebral column.

For this reason, the muscular system is intricately associated with the nervous system. Contractility is simply the ability of muscle tissue to shorten and thicken or to contract when it is stimulated. Most muscle contractions actually result in the length of the muscle becoming shorter. Extensibility is the characteristic that allows a muscle to stretch. Just as a muscle has the ability to shorten, it also has the ability to lengthen. The ability of muscles to contract (shorten) and extend (lengthen) is what allows us to move.

Movement Reference 46 Aquatic Fitness Professional Manual Hyperextension is defined as going beyond neutral extension. It is important to know where and when hyperextension is acceptable; for example, slow, controlled hyperextension of the lumbar spine can be a legitimate back-strengthening exercise. Hyperextension can also be undesirable from the standpoint of joint integrity, such as in hyperextension of the knees or elbows. Permanent lumbar hyperextension with anterior pelvic tilt (lordosis) is not desirable from a postural standpoint.

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