The human back is the large posterior area of the human body, rising
from the top of the buttocks to the back of the neck and the
shoulders. It is the surface of the body opposite from the chest. The
vertebral column runs the length of the back and creates a central
area of recession. The breadth of the back is created by the shoulders
at the top and the pelvis at the bottom.
1.1 Muscles 1.2 Organs of the back 1.3 Surface of the back 1.4 Movement
2 Clinical significance
2.1 Back pain
3 Society and culture 4 References
Structure The central feature of the human back is the vertebral column, specifically the length from the top of the thoracic vertebrae to the bottom of the lumbar vertebrae, which houses the spinal cord in its spinal canal, and which generally has some curvature that gives shape to the back. The ribcage extends from the spine at the top of the back (with the top of the ribcage corresponding to the T1 vertebra), more than halfway down the length of the back, leaving an area with less protection between the bottom of the ribcage and the hips. The width of the back at the top is defined by the scapula, the broad, flat bones of the shoulders.
View of the bones of the thorax and shoulders from behind.
Muscles The spine is bordered by several groups of muscles, including the intertransversarii muscles, which facilitate movement between the individual vertebrae, and the multifidus spinae, which facilitate the movement of the spine as a whole. Other muscles in the back are associated with the movement of the neck and shoulders. The trapezius muscle, which is named from its trapezium-like shape, runs between the neck, the anterior chain, the two shoulders, and the thoracic vertebra, T12. The large latissimus dorsi make a triangle from the shoulder to the hip. Organs of the back The lungs are within the ribcage, and extend to the back of the ribcage making it possible for them to be listened into through the back. The kidneys are situated beneath the muscles in the area below the end of the ribcage, loosely connected to the peritoneum. A strike to the lower back can damage the kidneys of the person being hit. Surface of the back The skin of the human back is thicker and has fewer nerve endings than the skin on any other part of the torso. With some notable exceptions (see, e.g. George "The Animal" Steele), it tends to have less hair than the chest on men. The upper-middle back is also the one area of the body which a typical human under normal conditions might be unable to physically touch.
Distribution of cutaneous nerves, dorsal aspect. Dorsal and lateral cutaneous branches labeled at center right.
The skin of the back is innervated by the dorsal cutaneous branches,
as well as the lateral abdominal cutaneous branches of intercostal
The intricate anatomy of the back provides support for the head and
trunk of the body, strength in the trunk of the body, as well as a
great deal of flexibility and movement. The upper back has the most
structural support, with the ribs attached firmly to each level of the
thoracic spine and very limited movement. The lower back (lumbar
vertebrae) allows for flexibility and movement in back bending
(extension) and forward bending (flexion). It does not permit
Main article: Back pain
The back comprises interconnecting nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments,
and tendons, all of which can be a source of pain.
Painting of a woman's back by Edgar Degas.
A substantial area of scar tissue on the back of Gordon, an oft-whipped slave.
Extensive back tattoo.
The curvature of the female back is a frequent theme in paintings, because the sensibilities of many cultures permit the back to be shown nude - implying full nudity without actually displaying it. Indeed, the practice of showing explicitness on the lower back has been performed for centuries. Certain articles of clothing, such as the haltertop and the backless dress, are designed to expose the back in this manner. The lower back is typically exposed frequently by many types of shirts in woman's fashion, and even the more conservative shirts and blouses will reveal the lower back. This happens for a variety of reasons- the lower waist area is a pivot point for the body and lengthens and arches as a person sits or bends. Secondly, woman's fashion typically favors tops that are waist length, allowing the back to be left bare during slight movement, bending or sitting. The back also serves as the largest canvas for body art on the human body. Because of its size and the relative lack of hair, the back presents an ideal canvas on the human body for lower back tattoos, mostly among young women. Indeed, some individuals have tattoos that cover the entirety of the back. Others have smaller tattoos at significant locations, such as the shoulder blade or the bottom of the back. Many English idioms mention the back, usually highlighting it as an area of vulnerability; one must "watch one's back", or one may end up "with one's back up against the wall"; worse yet, someone may "stab one in the back", but hopefully a friend "has got one's back". The back is also a symbol of strength and hard work, with those seeking physical labor looking for "strong backs", and workers being implored to "put their back into it". Historically, flagellation of a person across the back with a whip was both a common form of punishment of criminals, and a common means of forcing slaves to work. As well, self-flagellation, as in self punishment, may include the use of whipping oneself. This is one method of mortification, the practice of inflicting physical suffering on oneself with the religious belief that it will serve as penance for one's own sins or those of others. While more moderate forms of mortification are widely practiced—particularly in the Catholic Church—self flagellation is not encouraged by mainstream religions or religious leaders. A well-known instrument used for flagellations is the infamous Cat 'o Nine Tails, a nine-corded whip with one handle enabling a much more effective whipping than would be possible with only one lashing at a time. References
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Human backs.
v t e
Human regional anatomy
Cheek Chin Eye Mouth Nose Forehead
Jaw Occiput Scalp Temple
Adam's apple Throat
Waist Midriff Navel
Shoulder Axilla Brachium Elbow Forearm Wrist Hand Finger
Thumb Index Middle Ring Little
Buttocks Hip Thigh Knee Calf Foot
Ankle Heel Sole
General anatomy: systems and organs, regional anatomy, planes and lines, superficial axial anatomy, superficial anatomy of limbs
v t e
Muscles of the thorax and back
iliocostalis longissimus spinalis
semispinalis thoracis semispinalis cervicis semispinalis capitis multifidus rotatores interspinales intertransversarii
trapezius latissimus dorsi rhomboid
external internal innermost
subcostalis transversus thoracis levatores costarum serratus posterior
pectoralis major pectoralis minor subclavius serratus anterior sternalis
pectoral fascia cl