There are two main deep stabilising muscles that support your lower back: the Multifidus muscle and the Transversus abdominis muscle.

Illustration: multifidus muscle            Illustration: transversus abdominis muscle

In order to practice getting Transversus and Multifidus muscles to contract, it is easiest to get on all fours. Without moving your back, or pelvis, draw your stomach up gently - try to bring your belly button up towards your back. This is a very subtle movement so it is best to get your technique checked by a physiotherapist .

Important notes:

  • This movement should not be confused with breathing in - it is important to breathe normally while activating the stabilising muscles.
  • Do not use the muscles at the front of the stomach - using your 'six pack' is not the correct technique.

Another useful tool to aid the contraction of Transversus and Multifidus muscles is a pressure bio-feedback device. This device is a bit like a modified blood pressure cuff (see picture below) and consists of an air bag and a readout dial, connected by a tube.

Photo of a pressue bio-feedback device

The easiest way to use this tool is to lie on an exercise mat with the airbag under your tummy. To contract the deep stabilising muscles of the spine, gently pull in your tummy, until the needle on the dial drops by about 10 units.

Photo of using a pressure biofeedback device

Remember:

  • This movement should not be confused with breathing in - it is important to breathe normally while activating the stabilising muscles.
  • Do not use the muscles at the front of the stomach - using your 'six pack' is not the correct technique.

Once you have mastered the contraction, try to hold the contraction for four seconds, and repeat the exercise in sets of ten. Once you have mastered this, you're ready to move on to the next stage.


Introduction   Stage 2: Increasing Deep Muscle Endurance