The frustration of back pain often goes beyond a simple irritation. In many instances, the pain can come from weak core muscles. Two main muscle groups stabilize your spine and strengthening these muscles can lessen your back pain. One of these muscle groups, the multifidus, are a series of small muscles that connect to each of your vertebrae and are the key muscles in stabilizing your spine. Learning to isolate and strengthen this muscle group can reduce back pain and can help correct the pain associated with Gilmore’s groin, a painful injury common to players of kicking sports.
Multifidus Muscle Group
Deep within your back sits the multifidus muscle group. Each muscle of this group connects to its own vertebrae and work in unison to keep your spine stabilized, but they need the help of your transverse abdominal muscles to keep the spine stable. Because of this relationship, exercises targeting the multifidus also work your abdominal muscles. Before you can exercise these muscles, you must learn how to make them contract, to ensure you are targeting the correct muscle group.
Contracting the Muscles
To find and contract your multifidus muscles, sit or stand up straight and grab your sides, just above your waist, with your hands. Keep one thumb on either side of your spine. Pull your abdominal muscles toward your spine and push out with your back. When you feel the muscles move under you thumbs, you have successfully activated your multifidus muscles. Now that you know what it feels like to contract these deep muscles, you can target them while exercising.
The plank pose targets both your transverse abdominal and multifidus muscles without a lot of movement or heavy lifting. This pose only requires that you can raise your body off the floor while keeping your weight on your elbows and toes. Pulling your abs toward your spine while activating your multifidus muscles will add strength to both muscles if you keep your back straight and parallel to the floor. Performing this move for a minute or two at a time will do it. Try modifying the plank pose to target your multifidus from a different direction.
Any exercise that has the name of superhero can be a little intimidating and this one is no exception. The Superman starts with you lying flat on the floor with your arms extended in front of you and your legs in line with your torso. Your position will look like Superman flying through the air. Now that you are comfortable, lift your arms and legs off the floor and hold for at least five seconds. Try to hold them up longer, if you can. That pull you feel in your back is the multifidus muscles working themselves to a stronger state of well-being.
Lynda Schwartz is a fitness professional who began writing in 2004. She has contributed to "Women's Day" and "Good Housekeeping" magazines, as well as covered fitness and well-being for online publications. Schwartz holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and health promotion.