Strong back muscles are important for stability and posture. Deep back muscles -- including the multifidus -- support your spine to allow superficial back muscles to keep you upright, flex sideways and rotate. The multifidus muscles in your lumbar spine support your low back. Strengthen your multifidus muscles to improve posture and provide a solid foundation for movement of your arms and legs.
The multifidus muscles lie deep in your back next to the bones in your spine. These muscles are small, but run the entire length of your spine. Learn to feel these muscles contract before you advance to more difficult exercises. Lie on your left side, reach behind your back with your right hand and put your fingers on the bones of your spine in your low back. Move your fingers slightly to the side until you feel a groove -- the multifidus muscles are under this groove. Slowly breathe in and out and tighten your multifidus muscles as if you are pulling your thigh in toward your chest -- your body should not actually move during this exercise; however you will feel the muscles under your fingers tighten. Hold this contraction for three seconds and repeat 10 times. Lie on your right side and repeat for the multifidus muscles on the right side of your spine.
Perform stationary plank exercises to strengthen your multifidus and other core muscles. Lie on your stomach on a firm surface. Bring your arms under your chest and raise up onto your forearms. Lift your hips off the ground, supporting your lower body with your toes. Straighten your back and hold this position for one minute -- do not allow your butt to stick up or hips to sag. Work up to three repetitions of one minute each. Increase the difficulty of this exercise by performing a plank while balancing your forearms on a stability ball.
Sidelying Knee Lifts
Perform sidelying knee lifts to strengthen your multifidus muscles. Lie on your left side with your knees bent and ankles resting on top of each other. Contract your multifidus muscles and slowly lift your right knee toward the ceiling, keeping your ankles together. Hold for three seconds at the top, then slowly lower down. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.
Superman with a Twist
Perform Superman exercises with a twist to strengthen your multifidus muscles. Lie on your stomach on a firm surface. Tighten your back muscles, look up toward the ceiling and lift your arms and legs off the floor. In this position, twist your upper body to the right, then the left, and return to the center. Lower your arms and legs back down to the floor and repeat this exercise 10 times. Work up to three sets of 10 repetitions.
- Wheeless' Textbook of Orthopaedics: Multifidus
- PhysioRoom.com: Learning to Contract the Deep Stabilisers
- Core Concepts: Musculoskeletal Health Group: Multifidus -- Smallest Yet Most Powerful Muscle
- MuscleMagFitness.com: Top Non Weighted Core Exercises
- Dianne Lee & Associates: Consultants in Physiotherapy: Multifidus
Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.