Dancers get chucked in the non-athlete category often enough but few realize the thousands of hours they spend devoted to their craft, transforming their bodies in a way which is very similar to that of an athlete. Like athletes, dancers avoid back pain as it can destroy careers. Gildea et al, 2013 decided to study low back pain in ballet dancers. Low back pain makes up 17.6% of all ballet injuries (Whightman, 2005). They performed cross sectional MRIs of 14 male dancers and 17 female dancers. The muscles analyzed were the psoas, erector spinae, multifidus and quadratus lumborum. Of the 4 muscles analyzed, multifidus thickness was negatively associated with low back pain and observed degeneration.
The multifidus is a deep and powerful stabilizer of the spine, anchoring the spinous process of the lumbar, thoracic and cervical vertebrae to the posterior inferior iliac crest, the iliac crest, the sacrum and the erector aponeurosis. It helps lock the vertebrae together when in extension and under load.
Dr. Stuart McGill has pointed to the multifidus as being one of the important muscles in protecting oneself from lumbar discogenic injury. Pointer dogs, supermans, cat-camels and similar exercises all train multifidus. With this muscle activated- squatting and deadlifting become much easier activities and the spine is placed at much lower risk.