Spinalis, longissimus, iliocostalis. Months after the end of Gross Anatomy, these terms (names of the muscles essential for back extension) had trickled from the center of my consciousness to its edges—barely held onto by my sieve-of-a-memory that was already sifting through new material. Yet on April 1st, I attended a living anatome class: a yoga-Pilates hybrid emphasizing the functional movements of muscles and bones. Through movement, the class made true to its promise, emphasizing the living aspect of muscles and bones that Grey’s Anatomy just doesn’t quite capture with its diagrams on a page. Not only did the class bring these muscles back into consciousness (even adding some new ones—the multifidus muscles were judged unimportant by my professor) but it solidified my understanding of my spinalis, longissimus, and iliocostalis. Even now, when these terms should have surely fled my mind, I still think of stretching my back as extending my erector spinae. I would highly recommend the classes to any medical student interested in understanding not only anatomy—but their own bodies—better.
About the author
Steven A. McDonald is currently finishing his first year of medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, where he is a wellness representative for his class.