3 Best Lumbar Multifidus Exercises

You may not know where your lumbar multifidi muscles are located, but you can't ignore them when you have chronic back pain. According to the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma, the multifidi are the deepest layer of muscles along your spine. You have more than one multifidus muscle. Each one connects one vertebra to another; together, these small muscles help stabilize your spine. Perform lumbar multifidus exercises to increase strength and stability, and to keep back pain at bay.

Man in an office holding his lower back in pain
Credit: Milan Markovic/iStock/Getty Images

Leg Raises

You don't need weights for strengthening your lumbar multifidi. Activating the muscles alone will help to strengthen your back. Leg raise exercises are an effective way to do this. Lie on a mat on your back and bend one knee, resting your foot on the floor and extending the other leg. Raise your straight leg about a foot, keeping your abs and glutes contracted. Hold your leg in this positiion for a count of three before slowly lowering it back to the floor. Do 10 reps with each leg, keeping your resting leg bent while working the extended one. As you gain lumbar strength, you can advance to tracing square and circle shapes in the air with your working leg.

Lateral Flexion

Spinal muscles are important for bending your body from side to side, or lateral flexion. Lateral flexion exercises are useful for working your lumbar multifidus muscles. Lie on your side on an incline bench that has been adjusted so that the top of the bench hits you just below your waist. Cross your arms over your chest and bend your torso down to the side so that you're leaning over the top edge of the bench. Keep your back straight, only bending your spine at the waist. Do 10 reps on one side, then repeat with another 10 reps on the other side.

Rotation Moves

Twisting movements will help with flexibility and strength in your lumbar multifidi. Perform rotation exercises such as holding a broomstick across your shoulders and, standing with your feet shoulder width apart, twist from one side to the other. If your gym has a rotary machine, use that, too. Just place the pin under the amount of resistance you want to use and sit on the seat with your arms secured around the arm pads. Twist from one side to the other in a slow, controlled movement. Do at least 10 reps on each side for a total of 20.

Bonus Fourth Exercise

Another exercise that will benefit your lumbar multifidi doesn't focus on your back muscles. Typically, people who have back pain also have weak ab muscles. Abdominal muscles help stabilize your spine, so strengthening them will benefit your back. Crunches and sit-ups are effective ab exercises. Another simple way to strengthen your abs and stabilize your spine is to do pelvic rocker exercises. Lie on your back and bend your knees as if you were going to do a sit-up. Place your hands behind your head. Flatten your lower back to the ground, contracting your abs and pulling your navel toward your spine. Hold for a count of three, then rock your pelvis back down, pulling your lower back up off the floor. Rocking up and down again is counted as one repetition; perform a total of 10 reps.

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