The Multifidus Muscle

multifidus muscleA while back I wrote about the psoas and its next door neighbor the quadratus lumborum. I think issues with the quadratus are responsible for a great deal of back pain and tightness. Today we’ll talk about the multifidus muscle.

The multifidus muscle is actually a series of muscles attached to the spinal column, divided into two groups which include the superficial muscle group and the deep muscle group. They help to take pressure off the discs of the spine allowing the weight of the upper body to be successfully distributed along the spine. The superficial muscle group keeps the spine straight while the deep muscle group helps with the spine’s stability.

These amazing muscles anticipate your behavior. If you cough, the mutifidus muscles engages to stabilize the spine before the cough occurs. The same thing happens when you prepare to lift something. If you have ever heard of someone who throws their back out when they sneeze, it is likely because of weakness in the mulitifidus and other assorted muscles that stabilize the pelvis and low spine.

I am not ashamed to reveal how much I learn from videos on youtube. It is a treasure trove of knowledge and fun. You have to discern what is useful and not as there is an amazing amount of information on many anatomy topics but much if it is very good.

The multifidusis involved in almost every yoga pose and I don’t really have to change anything in my teaching. I just have to use the word multifidus once in a while. That is because all of the work, and exercises I recommend for lengthening and toning the muscles of the lower back apply to the multifidus. I usually talk about the quadratus lumborum as the trouble spot and while it is, the multifidus factor in, in a similar way.

If your lower back is short and tight the way I think most everyone’s is, then the multifidus, along with the quadratus lumborum will, by definition, would be tight as well. So there you have it. Build tone in your multifidus and you won’t regret it.


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sp anatomy