Build Your Core Strength To Reduce Back Pain & Get More Support
You can't overestimate the importance of core strength when it comes to managing your chronic lower back pain. Find out why here.
If you've ever had physiotherapy for your back pain then I'm sure you'll be familiar with core strengthening exercises.
As good core stability and having a strong core can be a big help for us.
This is because your deep-lying core muscles in the abs, hips, lower back and pelvis are responsible for supporting and stabilising your lower spine.
Which helps with your movement, balance and posture.
However when these core muscles are weak your body becomes unbalanced and is forced to compensates.
Which increases the load and strain on your lower back.
Leading to more back pain!
And your core muscles can also weaken with age which is why back pain becomes more likely the older we get.
So it's vital that you keep your core muscles strong with regular core strengthening exercises if you want to live a life free from back pain.
Why is Core Strengthening Good For Back Pain?
Core strengthening is widely recommended by health professionals as a means of prevention and rehabilitation for people with lower back pain.
And this is because it has been shown in scientific studies to be helpful.
For example, one study split people with chronic lower back pain into two groups with only one group put on a core strengthening program.
The core strengthening group reported less pain and better movement at the end of the study.
And these benefits were still present at a follow-up over 2 years later.
However, the science hasn't always been so conclusive.
For instance, in a review of 5 studies that looked into how good core strengthening is compared to general exercise for people with chronic lower back pain there was mixed results.
Because while core strengthening was shown to reduce pain and improve functioning in the short-term these results weren't consistent over a longer period.
However, despite the mixed bag of evidence there is still plenty to be gained from strengthening your core.
So here's how having a strong core will specifically help reduce and prevent back pain.
Firstly having strong core muscles will support and stabilise your spine.
This keeps your body upright and balanced and prevents muscle imbalances from developing.
This also allows your hips, pelvis, abs and back muscles to work in harmony which reduces the load on your lower back.
Secondly this stability will also help you to maintain a good posture which will also reduce the strain on your lower back.
Also your core muscles will help you with your movement too.
As they are responsible for supporting your back as you bend, twist and rotate your body.
Therefore having a strong core will support and protect you during everyday activities.
Allowing you to move more freely and without pain.
So having a strong and stable core will greatly reduce the likelihood of back injuries and strains that are so common with these types of activities.
So all in all having strong core muscles is just a great idea if you suffer from lower back pain.
How to Get Started With Core Strengthening
If you are already pretty active then you may have made a start with core strengthening without realising it.
However while these activities are great, it's also important to specifically target your core muscles with regular strengthening exercises.
But before you get started I need give you a warning.
You need to make sure you are doing the core strengthening exercises correctly.
And this can be a problem when you are first starting out.
Because the core muscles you need to target are the ones that lie deep within your body.
They are not the surface muscles that you may be used to targeting when exercising.
This means that working these deeper core muscles can feel strange at first.
And because of this it can lead to people getting the exercises wrong.
Also on top of making sure you are doing the exercises right you also need to target your core muscles evenly to stop any muscle imbalances from developing.
So technique is crucial.
Because by doing these core exercises wrong it can actually further damage your back.
This is why I wouldn't recommend trying to teach yourself core strengthening from a book or video.
A far better way to start is to book a session with a qualified physiotherapist and preferably one that specialises in injury rehabilitation.
As they will be able to assess you and tailor a core strengthening program to suit your specific needs.
And at the same time they will guide you through each exercise to make sure you are doing them correctly.
Once you have got the hang of it you can then move on and do them yourself.
Safe in the knowledge you know what you are doing (and aren't going to injure yourself!).
And to give you an idea of what you should be doing here are a couple of examples of the free core workouts you can find on sites such as YouTube:
There are a wealth of these videos out there targeting all levels of fitness and strength so you can take it as far as you like.
And these are really helpful as they allow you to make core strengthening a regular part of your life.
But do remember not to overdo things.
And listen to your body and only go as far as feels comfortable for you.
As even 10-15 minutes of daily core exercises can make a massive difference to your back and your overall well-being.
I hope that you can now see the importance of core strength for those of us with chronic lower back pain.
As having a strong core will help to support and stabilise your spine.
While also helping you to move and maintain good balance and posture.
And this will all reduce the load and strain on your lower back throughout the day.
Now you don't have to go to extremes with your core exercises.
But you do need to make sure you do them correctly.
And also make them a regular part of your routine.
Because if you can get into the habit of strengthening your core muscles daily for 10-15 minutes it will have a big impact on your pain levels.
And don't stop doing them when your back pain goes away either.
As you need to keep this core strength and stability maintained to stop the pain from returning.
Personally I spend half an hour every day on a mixture of core-strengthening exercises and stretches.
And this has not only reduced my pain.
It has also made me stronger, healthier, and allowed me to stay more active.
And doing them now feels as natural a part of my daily routine as cleaning my teeth.
So make sure you give your spine the help, strength and support it needs by strengthening your core muscles.