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Strengthening the spinal column is important not only to prevent needless injury during competitive sports and recreation, but also to enhance the quality of life, in general. The Multifidus, a long, thin, fiber-filled rod, is a series of muscles that laterally support the spine. It resembles the rails of a ladder – with the vertebrae representing the rungs or steps – functioning as part of the inner core. Spanning multiple vertebrae, the Multifidus functions as a stabilizer to each associated rung (vertebrae) of the spine. The Birddog (alternating hand with leg movements) Assume an “all fours position on the ground – with your shoulders directly over your wrists, fingers forward, with your hips over your knees. While activating your abdominal muscles, lift and extend your right leg, while keeping your hips level. Once stable, lift your left arm forward, stretching out your body out. Make sure to keep your neck in a neutral position in line with your spine. Hold this position for a few seconds, before returning to the starting position. Repeat to the opposite side. An advanced movement is to have a partner push your outstretched hands in short range multi-directional movements – challenging your balance. Remember, you should always consult your physician before beginning any exercise, diet, or nutritional supplementation program.
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