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Low Back Pain (LBP) and Lumbar Stabilization Exercises

Current research reports that in most cases of LBP, certain muscles of the back that stabilize the spine are reflexively inhibited after injury. These muscles do not spontaneously recover even if patients are pain free with a return to normal activity levels. These specific muscles work together to support and stablize the spine to help prevent LBP.  These muscles include the lumbar multifidi and the transversus abdominus.

 What Are the Lumbar Multifidi and Transversus Abdominus?

The lumbar multifidi are the deepest layer of muscles of the back controlling movement between the vertebrae. The transversus abdominus is the deepest of the abdominal muscles and is also a stabilizer of the spine. Its normal action along with the action of the the lumbar multifidus muscles function together to form a deep internal corset that acts to stabilize the spine during movement.

Specific exercises focusing on the contraction of these two muscles together will improve the protective stabilizing ability of the spinal muscles, reduce pain intensity, and improve activities of daily living as well as improve body awareness and posture.

How Is Low Back Pain Treated?

Physiotherapy often involves a wide range of techniques including soft tissue and joint mobilisation, strengthening and stretching exercises, acupuncture and education about posture and body mechanics. Teaching self management techniques to empower patients is crucial in treating low back pain.  Stabilizing and strengthening the lumbar spine (specifically lumbar multifidi and transverse abdominus) through a lumbar stabilization program is an important part of a rehabilitation program. Consulting with a physiotherapist to diagnose the condition is important before commencing a program. Common Causes of low back pain include:

  • Facet joint sprains
  • Lumbar disc bulge
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • Spondylolis or spondylolisthesis
  • Sciatica

Since every patient is an individual and presents with different conditions, a physiotherapist is needed to design and monitor the rehabilitation program. 

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