As fitness enthusiasts, we often focus on the visible muscles like our abs, biceps, and glutes. But what about the smaller muscles that don’t stand out when we flex, but still play a key role in body alignment? These less glamorous muscles are essential for proper movement and posture, and they should have a place in your strength-training routine too.
One of these muscles is the multifidus, a deep muscle that runs along the spine. Although working this muscle may not give you six-pack abs or toned arms, but training the multifidus muscle is crucial for overall fitness and health.
The multifidus muscle stabilizes the spine and helps keep it aligned. When we move, our spine is constantly twisting and bending, and the multifidus helps maintain proper alignment to prevent injury. It’s like the scaffolding for a building. Without it, the building would collapse, and without the multifidus, our spine would collapse.
And here’s the amazing thing: the multifidus is constantly at work, even when you’re not aware of it. It’s a deep, intrinsic muscle that operates on a subconscious level, firing off tiny contractions to keep your spine in optimal condition.
What Happens When Your Multifidus is Weak
A weak multifidus can lead to a host of problems, including back pain, poor posture, and even difficulty breathing. Many people suffering from back pain have a weak multifidus muscle, and strengthening it can be the key to taming back pain and improving body alignment. Additionally, poor posture can cause imbalances in other muscles, leading to further pain and discomfort. By training the multifidus, you can improve our posture and alleviate pain.
How Can You Train Your Multifidus?
So how do you train the multifidus muscle? One of the best ways is with exercises that target the core and back muscles. Planks and bridges are excellent exercises for strengthening the multifidus. These exercises not only target the multifidus but also engage other muscles in the core and back, leading to improved stability and strength.
Make sure you’re including bird dogs in your routine too. To perform the exercise, get down on all fours on a mat. From there, extend one arm out in front of you, while simultaneously extending the opposite leg behind you.
Initially, you may find this exercise easy, but after about 30 seconds, you’ll start to feel fatigued and unsteady. This occurs because your superficial back muscles begin to tire out, leaving your multifidus and deep stabilizers to take over. But if you push past the point of fatigue, you’ll strengthen your multifidus and other spinal stabilizers over time.
Not only is the “bird dog” exercise an effective way to train your multifidi muscles, but it also helps improve your core strength. By focusing on your deep stabilizing muscles, you’ll see improvements in your posture and balance, which can lead to better performance in other exercises and activities.
Other Approaches to Strengthening the Multifidus
Standard planks are one of the best exercises for building core strength but don’t forget about side planks, a variation that often gets neglected. Side planks are a highly effective exercise for strengthening the multifidus muscles and improving the stability of the spine.
Side planks work by engaging the muscles on the side of the body that is facing down, including the quadratus lumborum, gluteus medius, and of course, the multifidus. These muscles work together to stabilize the spine, especially during movements that involve twisting or bending.
One of the key benefits of performing side planks for the multifidus is that they activate the deep stabilizing muscles of the core, including the transverse abdominis and the multifidus itself. This is because when you perform a side plank, you are holding a static, isometric contraction of these muscles, which helps build endurance and strength.
Additionally, side planks also improve posture by strengthening the muscles that support the spine. When your posture is improved, your spine is better able to maintain its natural curves, reducing the risk of injury and pain.
Another way to train the multifidus is through spinal mobilization exercises. These exercises involve gently moving the spine in different directions to improve flexibility and mobility. When you sit for extended periods, your spine can become stiff, leading to pain and discomfort. Spinal mobilization exercises can help alleviate this stiffness and improve spinal health.
Use Proper Form
Start slow and focus on proper form! This is the key to building a strong foundation and avoiding injury. When you first begin training your multifidus, take your time and focus on using perfect form.
Remember, the multifidus is about stabilization, so you want to ensure you’re engaging the muscle properly. This means keeping your spine in neutral alignment, engaging your core muscles, and avoiding any twisting or bending movements that could strain the muscle.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can start to increase the intensity of your workouts. But listen to your body and take things at a pace that feels comfortable for you.
Incorporating multifidus training into your fitness routine can have a significant impact on your overall health and wellness. Not only can it alleviate back pain and improve posture, but it can also improve stability and strength. And let’s not forget about the aesthetic benefits – a strong and stable core can lead to a more defined waistline and improved body confidence, while a weak multifidus can lead to back pain, poor posture, and difficulty breathing.
So next time you roll out your yoga mat, don’t forget about the multifidus muscle. It may not be the most visible muscle, but it’s essential for overall health and wellness. By incorporating exercises that target the multifidus and focusing on proper form, we can improve our spinal health, alleviate pain, and feel our best.
Also, the next time you stand up straight, twist your torso, or simply sit at your desk, take a moment to appreciate the hard-working multifidus muscle. It may be small and unassuming, but it’s an essential part of your body’s support system, keeping you strong, stable, and pain-free.
- “Lumbar Multifidus”. 2023. Www.Physio-pedia.Com. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Lumbar_Multifidus.
- “Multifidus Muscle”. 2023. Www.Sciencedirect.Com. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/multifidus-muscle.
- “Multifidus Muscle – Spine’s Most Important Stabilizers.” 12 Jun. 2018, https://centenoschultz.com/multifidus-muscle/.
- “The relationships between physical activity, lumbar multifidus muscle morphology, and low back pain from childhood to early adulthood: a 12-year longitudinal study”. 2023. Www.Nature.Com. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-12674-8.
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