Yesterday I conducted a talk, ‘Protect Your Lower Back’. I started by pointing out the importance of nutrition with mention of the bone building vitamins and minerals - Calcium, vitamin D3, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, boron, silicon and vitamins C, K and B-complex (B6, B9, and B12). Next was regular exercise. But even most of the exercisers often ignore and are even unaware of the core muscles or its importance.
Think of your core as a strong column that links the upper and lower body together. The core muscles are the muscles deep within the abdominals and back that are attached to the spine or pelvis. Some of these muscles include the transversus abdominis, the muscles of the pelvic floor and the obliques. The deep back muscles and abdominal muscles are usually left inactive and unconditioned.
Maintaining a strong core is important at any age. Balance, posture and back health have been linked to core strength. Weak or poorly controlled core muscles have been associated with low back pain. Core strength is an absolute necessity for optimum performance from everyday activities to sports. Yet, the core is one of the least trained areas of our bodies.
The abdominal wall is made up of the Rectus Abdominis (six packs), Internal and External Obliques, and the Transverse Abdominus. The transverse Abdominus is like a natural back brace that wraps around the abdomen and attaches on either side of the spine. The only way to actively contract this muscle is by drawing our belly button in. Physiotherapy during lower back pain focuses on strengthening the oblique muscles to help reinforce support to the spine and reduce pain.
The Erector Spinea sits right along the spine. These muscles are commonly associated with lower back pain. They run parallel to the spine to produce erect posture and allow the spine to flex from side to side. These muscles grow weak with sitting leading to back aches and chronic injuries in the active athlete.
Multifidus is a deep back muscle that also runs along the spine. It works together with the transversus abdominis to increase spine stability and protect against back injury or strain during movement or normal posture.
Core stabilization exercises
These muscles are doing so much to protect our back; the least we can do is exercise and strengthen them. Core stabilization exercises are helpful for those with chronic back pain or weak abdominal muscles after pregnancy. By contracting both the back and abdominal muscles at the same time, core strengthening is achieved.
How To Begin Core Strengthening
Stat becoming aware of your posture throughout the day
Several times a day, take a minute to stand tall
Engage your core by pulling your belly button towards your spine
As you progress, stand on one foot for as long as you can
|Standing on one leg|
Plank is the beginning of core strengthening. It strengthens the erector spinea, rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus. The most important muscle that planks strengthen is the erector spinea. Strengthening this muscle helps develop a strong back and reduces future back aches.
|Bridge with leg raise|
|Bridge with leg raise|