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Back Pain Causes: Look for Deep Muscles Imbalances

back-pain-causesBack pain causes are what you want to find if you really want to address the consequences. Energy Medicine Clinic is focused on researching back pain causes and sharing this information. When you understand back pain causes better, you are closer than you think to complete relief.

Lower back pain causes: The Multifidus muscles

The multifidus muscles are one of the smallest, deepest and yet most “powerful” muscles that give support to the spine. They consist in a series of muscles attached to the spinal column.  They are  further divided in two groups: the deep and the superficial muscle groups.  Multifidus muscles help to take pressure off the vertebral discs by distributing body weight evenly along the spine. The superficial muscle group maintains our spine straight while the deep group significantly contributes to its stability. Multifidus muscles are recruited every time we bend backward, sideways and even turn our body to the sides. Studies have demonstrated that multifidus muscles are activated to protect the spine before any action is carried out. As a consequence, weak multifidus muscles failed to protect the spine when a demanding action is performed. It is easy to understand that such weakness becomes one of the major back pain causes.

Main-back-pain-causes-the-multifidusHow multifidus muscles are one of your back pain causes

Researches conducted on back pain causes have found that individuals, experiencing chronic pain lower back pain, displayed significantly smaller multifidus muscle activity as compared to healthy subjects. This demonstrates that these patients have a reduced ability to recruit the multifidus muscles to maintain their spine in a neutral position. More, any multifidus muscles span the spine and act more or less independently from one another, which allows a greater range of motion. As a consequence, when a single muscle has been deactivated and therefore is not participating in the movement, it may suffer from movement from below and above its position and become one of back pain causes.

Why Multifidus muscles get deactivated to become one of most common back pain causes

Long bending periods are one of common back pain causes. The action of bending will tire multifidus muscles and other supportive tissues causing the spine to be left without proper support and protection and prone to injury. Moreover, the multifidus has a tendency to shrink within 24 hours after the onset of any painful episode. Multifidus muscles need a chance to recover after the spine is bent forward for long periods. Full recovery might not be obtained so easily.

Long sitting periods are also among major back pain causes. The sitting position deactivates multifidus muscles. Normally, when ligaments are stretched, their receptors are activated which causes the muscles (mainly the multifidus muscles) to contract and stabilize the joints. Prolonged sitting may cause the receptors in the ligaments to become desensitized and no longer able to activate multifidus muscles for stability. The ligaments then keep stretching under the increased load until they start to tear and become inflamed. This inflammation coupled with the deactivation of the stabilizing multifidus muscles creates a condition prone to injury even after the individual is no longer seated. Back pain causes result from the following problems:

  • Multifidus muscle recovery is not spontaneous after a painful back pain episode
  • Lack of localized muscle support may appear as one reason for the high recurrence rate of lower back pain following the initial episode.

It is thus very important to address back pain causes to get the multifidus muscles to workafter a painful episode and make sure they have enough endurance to carry out their functions.

Exercises to address back pain causes

1. Mini thigh hiking

  • Lay down on your back in a neutral position, your legs are opened at shoulder length.
  • Keeping your legs straight on the floor, bring up your left hip gently within, towards the spine (like a mini thighs bending motion).
  • Hold it for 10 seconds and relax.
  • Then do the other leg.
  • Repeat 3 sets of 8 repetitions.

2. The static bird dog

  • Position on all fours
  • Flex the spine up and down by gently lowering down and rounding up your lower back.
  • Once you have done that a few times, you will identify the neutral position (somewhere between lowering down and rounding up) that is the less stressful for your lower back.
  • Lift the left knee and right hand just enough to slide a magazine underneath and keep the position for 10 seconds.
  • Alternate with the other hand and leg.

Notice if you are wobbling or able to maintain balance, in the former case, you probably suffer from lack of muscle support for your spine.

3. The classic bird dog

  • Same as before: Position on all fours and flex the spine up and down by gently lowering down and rounding up your lower back and identify the neutral position.
  • Then extend the right arm forward and opposite leg backwards moving above the hip and the shoulder (your arm and leg should be held straight).
  • Hold the posture for about 10 seconds,
  • Release the cramp by sweeping the floor with your hand and knee,
  • Back up again with all motions taking place at the hip and shoulder. Hold your back stiff.
  • 10 times and change arm and leg.
  • You can do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Bird-dog-2-300x225 (1)To obtain long-term relief from chronic lower back pain causes, it is thus essential to determine whether the multifidus muscles are involved, which area, and start their reactivation with proper and consistent exercises.




McLean Jackson, BSc, et al. Multifidus EMG and Tension-Relaxation Recovery After Prolonged Static Lumbar Flexion. In Spine. April 1, 2001. Vol. 26. No. 7. Pp. 715-723.

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