People love to talk about their "core." Go to any fitness class, and you are almost guaranteed to hear the instructor enthusiastically yell, "Be sure to engage your core!" But there is a reason why core strength is important not only for a flat stomach or six pack abs, but for preventing back pain. In fact, strengthening this system of muscles may be the key to finding relief.
What is your "core"?
Imagine if you were to draw a circle around your body right underneath your armpits across your back and chest. Now, if you did the same thing just below your hips, all the way around your body, the area between those circles is known as your core. This system of muscles, tendons, and ligaments determines how well you perform functional movements including sitting in a chair, standing up, walking, twisting, bending, lifting, running, or hundreds of other activities. Your core determines your posture, spinal alignment, balance, and stability. It's no wonder so many people have taken to the floor to do sit-ups in an attempt to strengthen their core structures. (More on that later.)
How the core and back pain are related
Without our notice, our bodies are working to maintain a condition called "homeostasis" or balance between all of its systems. That is why when you exercise and your body temperature begins to climb outside a normal range, you sweat to cool it down as quickly as possible. While homeostasis is vital to the health of your brain, heart, muscles, and bones, your body also miraculously compensates for muscular weakness in the same way. If your core muscles are weak, your body will rely on ligaments, tendons, and spinal discs to keep you sitting or standing upright. Chronic strain on these structures tends to create poor posture and pain in the back and hips.
How can you prevent low back pain through exercise?
Since your core includes not only your stomach but also your back, glutes, and oblique muscles (the ones that wrap around the sides of your body), focusing on one part of your body will not necessarily yield results in the others. Lying on the floor doing sit-ups may help strengthen your upper abdominal muscles, but it won't help strengthen your lower abdominal muscles, the muscles in your lower back, or your stabilizing structures. Performing functional strength exercises will.
However, if you are experiencing back pain, that does not mean you should rush out to the gym and sign up for the first strength training class you find. First, consult with the specialists at One Accord Physical Therapy. After evaluating your current core strength and flexibility, we can help you develop an exercise program that will strengthen your core without further aggravating your back pain. Using manual therapy to relieve your current pain and functional exercises to strengthen your core muscles, our exclusive one-on-one approach will put you on the road to better back health. Call One Accord Physical Therapy today to schedule your consultation and start experiencing a stronger core. Your back will thank you.