The muscles of your core are not limited to your six-pack abs. They entail muscles that support the spine and promote good posture. Strong core muscles make it easier for you to move your backside to side and twist. They also provide stability when you’re lifting heavy objects or bracing for a fall. A strong core can make you less prone to incurring an acute or chronic back injury.
Your core is the axis of your body. It supports your weight and is intrinsic to all the actions of your back and neck. The core includes the front abdominal muscles, muscles that wrap around the sides of your body, deep postural muscles, and muscles in the back that run along your spine.
When the muscles of your core are weak, your body relies more on connective tissue, such as ligaments, and the spinal disks, to move, lift, twist, and stabilize. This puts excess stress on these structures that can lead to back pain. A strong core also enhances your posture, so pain is less likely to develop due to long-term slouching, forward head, and leaning. When you have a strong core, your internal muscles keep your body in better balance and the muscles, connective tissue, and spinal disks work as they should.
You may think of crunches as the penultimate core-strength builder, but many other moves actually trump this common exercise. Try some of the following to build stability and function in your core and help your low back function as it should.
Plank position: Get into the top of a push-up position and lower your forearms to the floor. Balance on your toes (or on your knees for a modification) and forearms with a straight, long spine. Start with 10 seconds at a time and build your way up to 90 seconds or longer. Be sure to keep your hips from sagging or hiking.
Side plank: For a variation on the plank position, stack your body so that you balance on one forearm. Your feet can be staggered or stacked or your knee down for more support. Lift up through your hips as you hold for 10 to 90 seconds on each side.
Bird dog: Train the muscles along the spine by getting onto your hands and knees. Extend your right arm forward and your left leg back and hold for a few seconds. Lower the arm and leg and repeat with the left arm and right leg. Repeat 10 to 15 rounds.
Cobras: Lie on your belly and place your hands alongside your armpits; point your elbows to the ceiling. Keep your feet on the floor and slowly raise your face, collarbones and upper chest off the floor. Put little weight in your hands, make your arms do the work. Hold for a few seconds and lower back down. Repeat eight to 10 times.
If you suffer from chronic lower back pain, book a consultation with the AllCare team either by using the online scheduling tool on our website or calling one of our three convenient offices in Annapolis, Laurel, or Bowie, Maryland. Our expert team will create an individualized management program that will include core-strengthening exercises and possibly other treatment modalities. Don’t live with pain, all-natural chiropractic care can provide long-term relief.