The “Little Known” Muscle That May Be The Key To Fixing Your Back Pain….AND What You Can Do To Fix It!

If you have back pain😢, there's a good chance you need to work on strengthening your multifidus!

Anatomy

The multifidus muscle runs along your entire back (on each side of your spine), from your sacrum to your cervical spine. It originates at the transverse process of the vertebrae and attaches to the spinous process of the vertebrae 2-4 segments above. 

When the right and left multifidi contract together👐, they extend the spine. With an isolated contraction of the multifidus on just one side☝️, the muscle produces ipsilateral (same side) lateral spinal flexion and contralateral (opposite side) spinal rotation. For example, if the left multifidus contracts, it brings your left shoulder down and turns you to the right. 

The multifidus is a deep muscle of the spine and is extremely important in spinal stabilization🏋️ Research shows that people with low back pain often have significant atrophy of this muscle. Atrophy and weakness of the multifidus will lead to decreased stability of the spine, and can result in a vicious cycle of low back pain. Break the cycle and strengthen your multifidi to avoid low back pain👍

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Activation

If you want to strengthen your multifidus, you need to first learn how to properly activate it so you know which muscle should be firing when you're doing your core exercises.

  • Start standing with one foot in front of the other

  • To palpate the multifidus, place your thumb right next to the spine on the low back

  • Shift your weight forward and allow your heel to come off the ground

  • You should feel the multifidus pop into your thumb as it contracts

  • Try to maintain that contraction as you shift your weight back to the starting position

The Multifidus lift

Below is a great multifidus strengthening exercise. It also engages many of the other core muscles that need to be strong to stabilize the spine👍

  • Start with your left knee on a yoga block or foam pad and your right knee on the ground.

  • Engage your abdominals and activate your multifidus to pull your right knee parallel to your right so your pelvis is parallel to the floor.

With the right knee down as shown in the video, you will need the muscles that rotate your spine to the left to work. As you pull your right knee up to parallel, your right multifidus will be the one working.

  • Extend your right leg back and your left arm forward to further challenge the multifidus, transverse abdominals, obliques, glute max, and erector spinae.

Multifidus walk out

The multifidus walk out is a great way to strengthen the multifidus in a more functional standing position. Since many daily activities that require spinal stabilization are done in standing, it's important to train the multifidus in that same upright position.

  • Attach a band to a secure object about chest height level.

  • Grab on to the band with your arms straight

  • Take 3 large steps to the side

  • Keep your arms directly in front of your chest the whole time--don't let the band rotate your trunk as you step to the side.

As shown in the video, as you step out to the right, the band will be trying to rotate your spine to the left. Your left multifidus will be activated to perform relative right spinal rotation to prevent the band from rotating you to the left.

Do 10 reps on each side and feel your back pain melt away☺️