What Does Core Strength Mean?
One of the most common at-home recommendations we give our chiropractic patients is to improve their core strength. The “core” consists of muscles that stabilize and support the back and pelvis. These stabilizing muscles include the abdominal and lower back muscles. Also, the leg muscles such the gluteal, hamstrings, and quadriceps are important for core stabilization. If these muscles are weak and not firing properly it can lead to lower back pain. A patient that has a combination weak core strength and back pain is something our chiropractors see frequently.
How do Core Muscles Become Weak?
There are many possible reasons for a weak core. Not getting enough physical activity or working a desk job may increase the likelihood of a weak core. In addition, past injuries or trauma such as a sports injury or a car accident can also lead to core strength issues by weakening or damaging the muscle or tendons. Often, core strength loss will occur gradually, and a person may not realize it is occurring. Some signs of a weak core may include balance issues or poor posture. Another sign of a weak core is back pain that seems to occur more frequently than it has in the past. Most commonly the lower back will be affected, but the neck or middle back could be affected also. No matter what the cause is having weak core muscles may often play a role in back pain developing and recurring.
How to Improve Core Strength to Help Back Pain
There is no magic cure that can immediately fix core strength and back pain. Building up your core area will take time by regularly performing exercises and working to improve your posture. When it comes to core exercises I do not typically recommend sit ups and crunches. For people with lower back pain I have concerns that these exercises done improperly can irritate the lower back. My favorite exercises to recommend are planks, side planks, bridges and bird dog. Also, wall squats and lunges can be beneficial for improving the core and the legs. For my patients I typically recommend performing each exercise for 5-10 seconds at first and then gradually working up until you can hold each of them for 30 seconds or more. Core exercises should be performed three to four times a week. Programs like yoga or Pilates are often useful to improve core strength and stability. If you have questions about core or other exercises, please contact us to set up a personal appointment and consultation with one of our chiropractors in Sioux Falls.