Have you ever wondered why once you injure your back you seem to keep reinjuring it? Well one reason is due to a particular back stabilizer muscle called your multifidus. The multifidus is one core stabilizer muscle that is responsible for helping to protect your back from injury. The multifidus must turn on before you use your arms or legs for any activity in order to provide support to your low back. Research has demonstrated this muscle does not properly turn on in patients with low back pain, thereby placing the spine at an increased risk for injury.
More importantly, when you injure your back this muscle shuts off and has been shown to actually decrease in size. So a muscle that is smaller in size means it will be less effective in protecting your spine. What’s more interesting is that the multifidus does not return to its original size once the initial injury is over with and the pain has subsided. So no pain does not mean that the muscle is properly working again. The multifidus needs specific core stabilization exercises in order to help strengthen it and return it to its function of helping to provide stability to your back.
One good exercise to test your overall core strength is the simple bridge test. Lay on your back with your knees bent. Lift your butt off the floor and see how long you can hold this position, paying particular attention to keep the hips level. Studies show that people without back pain can hold the position for close to 3 minutes. People with a history of back pain can only hold a bridge position for just over 1 minute.
If you keep reinjuring your back or continue to live with chronic back pain, make an appointment to see a physical therapist for a detailed evaluation and treatment in core stabilization exercises. There is no need to keep living with low back pain. Contact STAR Physical Therapy today.