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Multifidus Exercises

Everything you ever wanted to know about multifidus exercises

Multifidus exercises are basically exercises that work the back muscles.  They are commonly used to alleviate back pain.  Physical therapists also use multifidus exercises to help patients with an injured back regain some mobility.  Experts estimate that about 80 percent of people in the western hemisphere suffer lower back pain at some point in their lives.

Low back pain is treated through physical therapy and exercises to work the back muscles.  There are plenty of muscles at work in the lower back, even though we can’t feel them most of the time.  One of the methods of treating low back pain involves a lumbar stabilization program.  This involves a series of back exercises that work to strengthen the muscles and restore strength to the lower back.  The lumbar stabilization program also works to improve flexibility in the back. 

The first thing you’ll want to understand before you start any exercise routine to strengthen your back is exactly what the muscles do.  The multifidus muscles are the ones that are responsible for all that bending and twisting you do.  They allow your lower back to function without pain.  These muscles run between all of your vertebra from your lower back up to the middle of your shoulder blades. 

Stabilizing the back is very important before you begin any therapy on your back muscles.  You’ll need to start with isolated muscle contractions involving various parts of your back.  The easiest way to begin stabilizing your back is through spine stabilization, which involves lying on your back and working your muscles.  You basically focus on different groups of back muscles by tilting the pelvis 10 times in each direction.  The movements involve tilting first the bottom of the spine toward the floor, and then the top of the spine toward the floor, simply by moving the pelvis.

One of the best multifidus exercises you can do involves isolating this particular set of muscles.  This ensures that you work only this set of muscles, which can be very difficult to feel.  Start by lying on your back with your hips and ankles aligned.  Slightly bend your knees while keeping your legs mostly straight.  Then move your top leg behind your bottom leg slightly, placing the knee of your top leg slightly behind the knee of your bottom leg.  Your hips should remain straight and perpendicular to the floor.  Relax your spine and your rib cage.  Then reach back with your top hand and place some of your fingers across your spine right at your waist. 

Next, use your abdominal muscles and press your lower ankle to the floor.  You should hopefully feel a slight muscle twitch in your lower back when you do this.  You’re aiming to maximize this twitch, which is a sign that your multifidus muscles are working.  You may also feel a slight bulging sensation along the area where your spine is closest to the floor.  Just make sure that you don’t move your hips while you’re doing this exercise.


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