To The Core

The leading cause of missed days at work is low back pain and it is no surprise as 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their life. Most people that are treated at Atlantic Wellness Center come in with low back pain. Not one gender is prevalent over the other, as men and women are affected equally. Sedentary lifestyles due to the vast amount of people working at computers for extended periods of time keeps us in business. Most of the low back pain is acute and lasts a few days to a few weeks, but 20 percent of acute back pain sufferers develop chronic low back pain that persists to up to a year. After treatment and when the patient is pain free, core stabilizing exercises are introduced.

What is the core?

The core is the body’s center of gravity and is where all movement originates. There are two stabilization systems that make up the core – the local and global core systems. Muscles and connective tissues of the lumbar spine, pelvic girdle and hip joint all work together to make up the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex. 

The local core stabilizing muscles are deep and attach directly to the spine. These muscles have a lot of endurance as they are constantly maintaining posture and respiration. They have an abundance of muscle spindles which are sensory receptors that help with position sense or proprioception. The muscles that comprise the local stabilization system are the transverse abdominus, lumbar multifidus, diaphragm and pelvic floor. 

How to Strengthen and Stabilize the Core to Relieve Back Pain

The roof of the local core stabilizers is the diaphragm and learning how to contract the diaphragm will increase intra-abdominal pressure thus decreasing compressive forces across the joint surfaces of the vertebrae. So, in other words, just learning how to breathe with the diaphragm/abdomen as opposed to the chest will dramatically help with pain relief.

The global core stabilizing muscles are superficial in relation to the local/deep muscles and are the one joint stabilizer whose main role is to assist in stability in more physically demanding movements. Muscles that make up the global core stabilizing system are the rectus abdominus, the oblique abs, gluteals, psoas and quadratus lumborum. The Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip-Complex acts as a transition from the lower to upper body to transmit forces generated through movement. It must be stable or other body parts will overcompensate and result in injury.

Exercises such as Pilates, planks, quadruped, bridges, dead bug and a slew of others that can be Googled can help strengthen the core, but should always first be consulted with a health care professional prior to performing this type of exercises.

To yours in better health! 

Dr. Shawn Snow author biography

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