Ever hear me talk about your Lumber Multifidus muscle? Often ignored by personal trainers, this muscle is essential in establishing a solid foundation of support for your lumbar spine, allowing you to progress your training to a higher level sans injury. Let’s talk about why it’s so important and how you can strengthen this integral stabilizer:
1) Without them, our spine would have problems!
The multifidus muscles help to take pressure off the vertebral discs so that our body weight can be well distributed along the spine. Additionally, the superficial muscle group keeps our spine straight while the deep muscle group contributes significantly to the stability of our spine. These two groups of multifidus muscles are recruited during many actions in our daily living, which includes bending backward, sideways and even turning our body to the sides. Studies have shown that the multifidus muscles get activated before any action is carried out so to protect our spine from injury.
2) The key is training your body to breathe while engaging your multifidus!
One of the reasons so many people have lumbar back pain is a result of not taking full breaths using their diaphram muscle in their lower abdomen. So often we take short quick breaths using our upper back and neck muscles because this is the most efficient way to get oxygen to our heart quickly. But when not in quick need, it’s important to contract that diaphram so that the multifidus learns it should be engaged all the time. Taking long sustained breaths in and out retrains your body to use your diaphram rather than your upper neck and shoulder muscles to breathe. You can imagine the tightness and pathology you may sustain by breathing from your neck, shoulders and back rather than from your deep abdomen–The upper extremity muscles get tighter and more bulky (theoretically causing lactic acid buildup and reduced oxygenation). This can result in a compression of the cervical spine and a weakness in the lumber multifidus.
3) Key exercises for keeping this muscle strong:
Think the snow will slow down your exercise? You could be right–but only in the best way possible! Snowshoeing burns about 45 percent more calories than walking or running when done at the same pace and on the same type of terrain.
Don’t have snow shoes? No worries–just walking or running in your regular shoes with clips or without will produce about a 30 percent higher calorie burn. Plus the cold weather challenges your body to maintain an internal homeostasis, further burning calories.