Multifidus Muscle Outdoor People

How to Strengthen Your Multifidus Muscles

The cause of chronic back pain is very complex, and most often the result of multiple contributing factors.  Despite varied diagnoses such as degenerative joint disease, disc herniations, spondylolisthesis, and others, medical research has shown that 80% of chronic low back pain is due at lest in part to weak trunk muscles.  Because these muscles play such an important role in stabilizing and support the spine, treatment programs aimed at strengthening the back have been highly successful.

The multifidus muscle is a group of muscles that run along the entire length of your spine, and attach to the joints of the vertebrae.  It is highly active in many everyday motions and activities, including standing still, bending forward, twisting to either side, picking or lifting things up, and walking.  It acts as a major stabilizer for the spine.  As it contracts, it stiffens the vertebrae, giving about two-thirds of the muscle stability for the spine.

Researchers have found that abnormalities in the multifidus muscle are common in patients suffering from chronic low back pain.  In summary:

  • There is a significant correlation between multifidus muscle wasting and the complaints of leg pain
  • MRI tests reveal that chronic low back pain patients have smaller, weaker multifidus muscles than healthy control subjects
  • Fatty infiltration of the multifidus muscle occurs over time
  • Exercise has been documented to increase both the size and strength of the multifidus muscle in patients with chronic low back pain
  • Abnormal EMGs have been consistently observed in the multifidus muscles of chronic back-pain patients, usually at just one level of the spine
  • Abnormal EMGs can also return to normal after exercise therapy

How to strengthen the Multifidus:

Your PDR physical and occupational therapists have been trained on the most effective techniques for strengthening the multifidus, and related low back and abdominal muscles.  MedX strengthening using the lumbar extension and rotary torso machines isolate the low back muscles for most preferred strength building.  Mat and ball exercises are also prescribed to continue strengthening at home, and for continued maintenance.  Your therapists will work with you to determine the appropriate exercises, as well as intensity and repetitions that will give you the best results.

Gardening Garden Flowers Pretty

Gardening Tips for Those Suffering From Back Pain

Research has shown that gardens can be a healthy addition to everyone’s yard. It has often been thought that spending time in a garden can help improve mental well-being. Now multiple studies have found that a plant-filled environment helps people relax, raises pain tolerance for people with chronic disorders and improves moods. One researcher states that it is due to the sensory feedback of a garden being much different than our daily lives making it a calming and relaxing place. An improvement in mood may also come from the feeling of accomplishment with starting and caring for a garden.

Along with the mental benefits of a garden, there are also many physical benefits. Gardening can be a great motivator for activity. If you don’t like an exercise you will probably not stick with it. Many people enjoy gardening and yard work and are likely to continue with it for years.  Gardening has also been shown to be a great way to prevent bone loss.   Not to mention all of the calories you can burn from all of the pulling, lifting and digging. A 180 lb. person will burn about 200 calories with 30 minutes of gardening.

You can get the whole family involved. Gardening is a great activity for kids. Besides the physical benefits mentioned earlier, gardening can also be a good learning experience for kids. They will learn to care for the plants as well as learn how to identify different flowers or vegetables.

Rewards always make an activity more enjoyable, and what is more rewarding than seeing your hard work in the garden pay off. A garden full of fruits and vegetables is a great reward for your work. Also eating fruits and vegetables is an important part of a healthy diet.

The benefits of starting a garden seem endless, however, starting a new project like gardening can be straining on the back and neck. Follow these simple steps to make your gardening experience fun, rewarding and pain free.

Start at a light to moderate level. Take breaks as needed and vary activities.

Stay hydrated. Make sure you have water near by and take breaks to get out of the sun occasionally.

Keep your posture in mind. Stay out of positions that put added strain on your neck and back. Sit on the ground for low projects and squat when doing any lifting or shoveling. If you have questions regarding the use of good body mechanics while gardening, ask your therapist.

Coffee Cup Bed Bedroom

Sleeping Positions That Help With Pain

Proper posture with sleeping positions and use of postural supports can decrease waking due to neck &/or back pain, and reduce pain and stiffness in the morning.

Mattress & Pillow Support

  • Mattress should be firm to prevent sinking, yet soft enough to conform to the normal curves of your spine.
  • Pillow should support your neck and allow it to rest in a balanced position, such as a contoured neck pillow.
  • A neck roll may be added for extra support.  Consider using a feather pillow with a cervical / towel roll in the base of the pillow case to support the natural curve of the neck.

Sleeping on your back

  • Pillow under the knees to keep neutral position in the lower back.
  • Avoid using thick / multiple pillows under your head.
  • Lumbar support or towel roll as needed to support the lumbar spine.
  • If you have arm pain, prop a pillow under arm from shoulder to elbow (allow elbow to bend, rest hand on pillow).

Sleeping on your side

  • Pillow should support the head and neck, which may require doubling it if thin or made of feather.
  • Keep head and shoulders in line with hips.
  • Keep hips bent to less than 90 degrees or bend the top leg and keep the lower leg straight.
  • Pillow used between the knees to align the hip and knee.
  • If you have arm pain, support arm on pillow propped between arm and rib cage with elbow bent for neutral shoulder position.

Sleeping on your stomach

  • Do not use a pillow under the head.
  • Place pillow under lower legs to keep spine in neutral.
  • A firm mattress is recommended.
  • If you have arm pain, avoid sleeping on stomach.