Strengthen Your Back: Multifidus Muscle Exercises
The multifidus muscles, a group of small but powerful muscles located in the lower back, help support our posture, stability, and movement. When these muscles are weak or injured, we can experience a range of health issues such as chronic low back pain.
Fortunately, there are exercises specifically designed to target the multifidus muscle, helping us build strength and stability for improved overall health.
In this article, we’ll explore what the multifidus muscle is, why it’s important for preventing chronic low back pain, and provide some simple yet effective exercises for strengthening this critical area of the body.
What Is the Multifidus Muscle?
The lumbar multifidus muscle is a deep spinal stabilizer of the lumbar spine, a group of muscle fibers located in the lower back. These muscles are responsible for supporting and stabilizing the spine, helping us maintain good posture and optimal mobility.
The lumbar multifidus originates at the posterior surface of the sacrum, mammillary processes of the lumbar vertebrae, and posterior superior iliac spine and inserts into various vertebrae along the spine.
Overall, the lumbar multifidus plays an important role in maintaining spinal stability and preventing injury, as well as facilitating smooth movements from side to side and front to back. When this muscle is weak or injured, we can experience a range of health issues such as chronic low back pain.
Why Should You Exercise the Multifidus Muscle?
The benefits of exercising the lumbar multifidus muscle are numerous. These include:
1. Improved Posture
Multifidus muscle atrophy can give birth to posture issues such as slouching and round shoulders. Exercising the lumbar multifidus muscle can help correct these posture issues and strengthen the muscles that support and stabilize your spine, improving your overall standing and sitting posture.
Also, focusing on your posture when exercising can help activate the lumbar multifidus muscle and further strengthen it.
2. Reduced Risk of Injury
Strong multifidus muscles act as a shock absorber for our spine, helping protect against injury due to sudden movements or falls. Strengthening this muscle group helps reduce the risk of injuring the back and other structures in the lower body.
3. Better Spinal Stability
Strong multifidus muscles help provide better stability for the lumbar spine by supporting our core and reducing stress on our vertebral discs, which decreases the chance of developing a herniated disc.
4. Decreased Chronic Low Back Pain
Chronic back pain is often caused by weak core muscles, including the multifidus muscle. Exercising the multifidus helps to prevent neuromuscular dysfunction of the lumbar multifidus muscle, reducing the risk of pain associated with chronic issues.
5. Increased Mobility, Flexibility and Range of Motion in the Spine
Strong multifidus muscles help protect our spine from injury due to sudden movements or falls, as well as facilitate smooth movement from side to side and front to back. This increased joint mobility and stability in our spine can help improve balance and coordination, making everyday tasks easier.
6. Decreased Chance of Developing a Herniated Disc
A herniated disc occurs when the cushion (posterior annulus) between our vertebrae becomes weakened, allowing the inner core (nucleus pulposus) of the disc to protrude outwards. It is estimated that 1-3 percent of patients suffer from the painful effects of a herniated lumbar disc. A strong multifidus helps provide better spinal stability, reducing the risk of developing a herniated disc.
Without proper support, these discs can become herniated which can cause intense pain and discomfort throughout the body. Strengthening the lumbar muscles helps support and stabilize the spine, reducing the risk of developing a herniated disc.
7. Improved Balance and Coordination
A strong multifidus helps improve balance and coordination by providing better stability in our lower back muscles and facilitating smoother movements from side to side or front to back.
8. Strengthened Core Muscles
Strengthening the multifidus muscle also strengthens other core muscles such as your transversospinalis muscles, rectus abdominis, obliques, and glutes. You can also incorporate core stability exercises into your routine. This improved core strength then supports overall body strength and stability, making everyday tasks easier.
4 Exercises for the Multifidus Muscle
A weak multifidus muscle can lead to various health issues due to its role in supporting and stabilizing the spine. However, there are several exercises that you can do to strengthen the multifidus muscles.
The bird dog exercise is a great way to target your multifidus as well as other core muscles. To perform this exercise:
- Begin by getting on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
- Engage your abdominals and glutes as you extend your left arm and right leg out at the same time.
- Hold this position for 10 directly under your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips.
- Then brace your core, engage your glutes, and slowly extend one arm out in front of you and the opposite leg behind you. Make sure to keep your hips level while doing this exercise, as well as hold for 10 seconds before returning to the starting position.
- Repeat this exercise on the other side.
You can modify this multifidus exercise by placing your hands on a chair or wall for balance if needed. This will help you focus more on engaging your core and glutes while performing the exercise.
Quadruped Leg Lift
The quadruped leg lift is another great exercise that helps to strengthen the multifidus muscle. It engages the core and challenges your balance as well. To perform this exercise:
- Begin by getting on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips.
- Lift one leg, keeping it straight while you lift it off the ground.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds before slowly lowering back down to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
If needed, you can modify this exercise by placing your hands on a chair or wall for balance, as well as lifting only one knee at a time instead of extending the entire leg. This will help focus more on engaging your core and glutes during the movement.
Bridge With Leg Extension
The bridge with leg extension is an effective exercise to strengthen the multifidus muscle while also engaging your glutes and hamstrings. To perform this exercise:
- Begin by lying on your back with your feet hip-distance apart and flat on the ground.
- Engage your core, press down through your feet, and lift your hips off the ground.
- Then extend one leg out in front of you while keeping your hips lifted and bent knee stable.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds before slowly lowering back down to the starting position.
- Repeat this exercise for 20 reps.
- Do this exercise on the other side.
If you are a beginner or currently have an injury, you can modify this exercise by performing it on your hands and knees instead of lying down. This will help focus more on engaging your core and glutes during the movement without putting too much pressure on your lower back.
Side Plank With Leg Lift
For an extra challenge, you can add in the side plank with leg lift exercise. This exercise works your abdominals and obliques while improving balance and stability. To perform this exercise:
- Begin by getting into a side plank position on your right forearm, keeping your elbow directly under your shoulder.
- Engage your abs and glutes as you lift your top leg straight up and hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Lower your leg back to the ground before returning to the starting position.
- Repeat this exercise on both sides for 20 reps.
If you are a beginner, you can modify this exercise by keeping your bottom knee on the ground instead of having it lifted off the floor. This will help focus more on engaging your core without putting too much pressure on your lower back or shoulders.
In addition to these multifidus exercises, check out our guide on lower back rehab exercises to improve function and reduce pain.
10 Tips for Incorporating Multifidus Muscle Exercises Into Your Routine
Here are ten tips for incorporating multifidus muscle exercises into your routine:
1. Find The Best Schedule That Works for You
Incorporating multifidus muscle exercises into your routine should be done at least 3-4 times a week for the best results.
2. Start Slowly
When starting, focus on performing each exercise slowly and with the correct form to help prevent injury or strain.
3. Modify If Needed
Beginner modifications are always available if you are new to the exercises or have an injury.
4. Vary Up The Exercises
Mix up the different multifidus exercises so your muscles don’t get used to one particular routine.
5. Make It More Challenging
As you progress, make the exercises more challenging by increasing reps and sets as well as incorporating weights if needed.
6. Incorporate Into Your Existing Routine
Multifidus muscle exercises can easily be incorporated into your current workout routine, such as yoga or physical therapy sessions for addressing your chronic low back pain.
7. Listen To Your Body
Always listen to your body when performing these multifidus exercises and stop if there is any pain or discomfort during the movement.
8. Cool-Down and Stretch When Finished
After you finish your routine, make sure to stretch and give your muscles time to relax.
9. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after a workout will ensure that you stay hydrated and your muscles get the nutrients they need for proper recovery.
10. Rest Days Are Important
Make sure you are taking rest days between workouts to allow your body time to recover from the stress of exercise. This is essential for avoiding injury and ensuring optimal performance during each session.
By following these tips and incorporating multifidus muscle exercises into your daily routine, you can help improve core strength, stability, balance, and overall mobility. As always, be sure to talk with your physical therapists or doctors before beginning any new exercise routine.
By incorporating multifidus muscle exercises into your daily routine, you can help improve core strength, stability, balance and overall mobility. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced athlete, these tips will ensure that you get the most out of each workout session.
Remember to always listen to your body when performing these multifidus exercises and consult with a doctor before starting any new exercise program.
With dedication and consistency in exercising this important muscle group, you may be able to experience improved performance while minimizing the risk of injury or strains.
If you are experiencing mechanical chronic low back pain and want relief, speak to your doctor about ReActiv8. ReActiv8 is an innovative neuromodulation therapy that has been clinically proven to help reduce pain and improve function in patients with lower back pain.
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