Relieve Back Pain With Core Stabilization
You may be wondering, how can you possibly relieve back pain with core stabilization? Isn’t the core just another word for the abs?
While the abs are certainly part of the core, they alone do not constitute it. The core is the central part of your body. All motion originates there. The core muscles work together to prevent back injuries and disc problems that can lead to pain and even immobility.
So when we talk about core muscles, we’re actually talking about the abdominal, hip, buttocks, pelvic, and back muscles.
Yes, Your Back IS Part of Your Core
Keeping the core muscles strong and stable is crucial to keeping the body moving at optimal capacity rather than spasming at every twist, bend, or turn. Of these many muscles, there are three that are key in maintaining a healthy back.
The transverse abdominis muscle forms the sides and front of your abdomen. It runs under the obliques (those “six-pack” muscles) before wrapping around to connect with tissues running along the spine. Its primary objective is to stabilize the pelvis and lower back before the body engages in movement. It is also responsible for good posture in that it pulls the abdomen in toward the spine.
Meanwhile, the multifidus muscle which runs alongside the spine serves to stabilize the spine while promoting proper function of the vertebrae. Finally, the large muscles on both sides of the spine known as the erector spinae keep the back straight while supporting side-to-side movement.
But it isn’t just these muscles that are tantamount to proper movement of the spine and, really, the whole body.
The Role of the Hips
The sacrum (the base of the spine) is the keystone that connects the spine to the lower extremities. The hips are the primary pivot points. The gluteus muscles (yep, also part of the core) stabilize the hip joints. So when they are strong, the hips effectively move into extension as well as internal and external rotation.
However, if the hip muscles are weak, it can throw off your balance. And without balance there is instability. In some cases, the lumbar erectors may kick on and try to take on too heavy a load. They easily spasm under all the weight and this can cause significant back pain.
But wait. There’s more.
As if the pain weren’t enough, the swelling and inflammation can then impact the nerves that protrude from the spine. This results in pain down the leg. Thus, it’s essential to keep the hips strong.
Strengthening ALL the Core
It isn’t just the hips though.
Maintaining strength through all of the core muscles improves balance to lessen the likelihood of awkward movements in trying to prevent falls. In addition, when these muscles are strong, they take on the force rather than the vertebral joints. This also bodes well for reducing the risk of back pain.
Furthermore, when the core muscles are strong, the abs maintain proper curvature in the spine and neutral pelvic lift. This neutral position is critical in preventing back pain in that it shifts weight and pressure off the spine.
Plus, a strong core will ensure the vertebrae remain properly aligned to stabilize the spinal joints. Speaking of stabilization…
Addressing Back Pain With Core Stabilization
While core exercises such as those found in Pilates build strength, they also train the muscles to work in harmony with one another. In doing so, these exercises lead to more steadiness and improved balance – i.e. stability.
Without stabilization, everyday activities such as walking, shopping, cleaning, etc. can become challenging. And as the body is constantly working to right itself, the risk for injury (especially to the spine) increases dramatically.
Many exercises recommended for lower back pain now place an emphasis on maintaining spinal stability. The objective is to improve endurance and neuromuscular control, as well as strengthen the muscles that are pertinent for maintaining dynamic spinal stability. As such, movements such as bending, twisting, and lifting are far less likely to result in muscle spasms.
In a nutshell, improving strength and stability through core stabilization exercises offers reassurance that a wide range of spinal movements which may cause lower back pain can be done safely.
Do You Struggle With Back Pain?
If back pain is a regular part of your life, why not see how you could be relieving back pain with core stabilization?
Our Pilates-based physical therapy and Pilates classes will help you understand the importance of a strong and stable core while helping you build those muscles.
So contact us today to get started. It could be just what the “doctor” ordered.