Semispinalis Thoracis

General information

The Semispinalis thoracis muscle consists of narrow, thin, fleshy fascicule that is interposed between the surrounding tendons of considerable length. It erupts from a series of small tendons out of the transverse processes for the sixth to the tenth thoracic vertebrae. The muscle is inserted by the tendons into the spinous processes for the top four thoracic and the bottom two cervical vertebrae.

Literal meaning

Half thorn breast plate or chest.

Interesting information

If a patient is experiencing strong pains in the back that start at the base of the ribcage and extend downward to the buttocks, it may be related to the Semispinalis thoracis muscle. The pain will often be more significant at the base of the buttocks. Difficulty when standing after rising out of a seated position means that the muscle could be injured. Pain that starts at the base of the ribcage and extends into the top of the hip, or pain that is more substantial in the top of the back part of the hip, signal injuries to the thoracis muscle.

Bending or twisting when lifting, whiplash to the lower back, extended periods of sitting on a plane or in a car, or straining when trying to lift an object that is too heavy are all types of activities that can cause an injury to the Semispinalis thoracis muscle.


Transverse processes for T6-T10.


Spinous processes for C6-T4.


Extension of the cervical vertebral column for rotating it to the other side.

Nerve supply

Dorsal rami for the thoracic spinal nerves T1-T9.

Blood supply

Dorsal branches for the posterior intercostal arteries extending from the thoracic aorta.

Semispinalis Thoracis

Relevant research

Understanding the workings of the back can be quite complex. Any number of movements or accidents can cause problems with the lower back. Being able to understand what causes lower back pain and what can be done to help minimize the likelihood of it happening is important to overall health and well-being. Once an individual understands the potential risks associated with certain activities, they will be able to determine whether to proceed with performing such movements. Lower back pain can be alleviated and treated by following a few simple rules and techniques.

Baldry, P.E., Thompson, John W., (2005). “Acupuncture, Trigger Points and Musculoskeletal Pain (Third Edition).” Pg. 275-314.

Semispinalis thoracis exercises


Perform the exercise on a mat. Lay down flat on the stomach with the arms extended outward in front of the body. The legs should be lying flat on the ground, as well as the arms. Lift the arms and legs simultaneously like you are trying to fly. Contract the lower back. Make sure to breathe. Depending on the individual level of fitness, hold the position for a minimum of two seconds up to five seconds per repetition. Aim for five to 10 repetitions at a time in sets of two to three. Individual fitness levels will determine how many repetitions and sets the individual is capable of performing at a single time or in a single day.

Semispinalis thoracis exercises

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