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J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Mar;27(3):943-5. doi: 10.1589/jpts.27.943. Epub 2015 Mar 31.

Exercise and tropism of the multifidus muscle in low back pain: a short review.

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School of Physical Therapy, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, Italy.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova, Italy.
Hospital of Trento, Italy.
IRCCS Don Gnocchi Foundation: Via Largo Paolo VI, Rovato 25038, BS, Italy.


[Purpose] The purpose of this review was to investigate the types of exercises that can improve the tropism of the multifidus muscles, based on clinical evidence. [Methods] Following to the PICO (Problem, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome) model, we considered studies of subjects with specific or non-specific LBP that used exercises aimed at activating the lumbar multifidus muscle and measured its cross-sectional area or thickness with ultrasound, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. [Results] This review found that most studies compared different types of exercises for lumbar muscles, but without specifically investigating the multifidus muscle. However, a few studies showed that the cross-sectional area and thickness of the multifidus muscle can be increased by activating this muscle, and they progressed from motor control to increased static and dynamic loads. [Conclusion] A review of the literature revealed that specific supervised and home exercises may improve the symmetry of the multifidus muscle.


Diagnosis; Exercise; Multifidus muscle

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