Author: Dr Peter de Souza
Last modified: 23 November 2023

The iliocostalis muscle is one of the three groups of muscles which make up the erector spinae lying either side of the spinous processes of the vertebral column, and forming the largest group of intrinsic back muscles. The iliocostalis is the outermost erector spinae muscle, the longissimus lies in the middle, and the spinalis lies most medially.

Each of the three erector spinae muscles originates from a broad tendon which is attached to the sacrum, spinous processes of the lower thoracic and lumbar vertebrae (T11-L5), thoracolumbar fascia and the iliac crest. In the upper lumbar region, each of the iliocostalis, longissimus and spinalis divide into three columns of muscle, which are then further subdivided into three components. The iliocostalis divides into the iliocostalis lumborum, iliocostalis thoracis, and iliocostalis cervicis.

The erector spinae are covered by the thoracolumbar fascia, lying deep to the rhomboid, splenius and serratus posterior inferior muscles.


  • Iliocostalis lumborum: sacrum, spinous processes of T10-L5, iiac crest
  • Iliocostalis thoracis: angles of ribs 7-12
  • Iliocostalis cervicis: angles of ribs 3-6


  • Iliocostalis lumborum: angles of ribs 7-12
  • Iliocostalis thoracis: angles of ribs 1-6
  • Iliocostalis cervicis: transverse processes of C4-6


  • Extension of vertebral column
  • Assist lateral flexion spine
  • Postural stabilisation of spine


  • Iliocostalis lumborum: Dorsal rami T7-L3
  • Iliocostalis thoracis: Dorsal rami T7-L3
  • Iliocostalis cervicis: Dorsal rami C4-T6

Blood Supply

  • Iliocostalis lumborum: lumbar arteries
  • Iliocostalis thoracis: lumbar arteries
  • Iliocostalis cervicis: occipital arteries