The Pallof Press and The Multifidus

core stability Jun 08, 2022

What even is a Pallof Press?

 The Pallof press was popularized after Jon Pallof demonstrated the move at an event at Cressey Sports Performance about 10 years ago. Since then, you may have seen various people at the gym completing the exercise which trains the multifidus muscle.


This is a deep back muscle attaching transverse processes of vertebrae (and lateral posterior sacrum) to the spinous process of the next vertebrae up.

The multifidi are not small muscles

A common misconception is that it is a small muscle, but actually, it’s thicker than your thin little rhomboids or low traps that get all the credit for being more visible!

The multifidus is unique in that it SHOULD work with a feed-forward mechanism. This means that it should work to stabilize locally (one vertebrae on the next) THEN larger muscle groups create global movement.

In people with back pain there is often a latency period or just no recruitment of local stabilizers including the multifidi.

So how do you get strong multifidi and potentially reduce back pain? 

Low load/low threshold anti-rotational movements such as the Pallof Press elicit high activity of the local stabilizers

This is thought to help reestablish the activation pattern of the local stabilizers so that when you do need to load spinal flexion, extension, rotation, etc you will do so on a stable spinal column. The pallof press or a variation (Ex: half kneeling) fits into a comprehensive core program that should also include loading anterior core, lateral core, rotary stability.

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