Back pain: everyone has it at some point in their lifetime, and many people suffer from chronic back issues throughout their entire lives. It is also one of the most common physical concerns and one of the biggest reasons why people visit our office. Taking care of your back is vital, but also difficult, because there are so many causes of back problems.
One of the more common reasons for many types of back pain, however, is weak core muscles. When the core is not doing its part to keep your body upright and moving, the back suffers because it has to compensate for what is missing. Eventually painful knots and aches can form because of the lack of stability from a weak core.
What Makes Up Your Core Muscles:
A common misconception is that core muscles are merely your abdominal muscles. The truth is that your core is made up of your hips, your lower back, and your abdominal muscles. All of these muscle tissues combine to stabilize the spine and aid in spinal motion. These core muscles are essential because the spine is an important part of our daily lives—helping us to turn, lift, bend, walk, dance, run, sit, push, pull, and climb.
How To Strengthen Your Core:
Sit-ups, hip extensions, dead lifts, planks, and crunches are all simple strength training moves to help fortify your core muscles, but if these exercises seem boring or outdated, there are plenty of other options for you to choose from. Kick-boxing, for example, engages your core muscles with every kick and punch. Zumba is another high-intensity, fun way to boost your core muscles because many of the dance moves isolate these muscle groups.
If you are looking for a lower impact way to engage your core, consider yoga. Yoga poses require stability and focus using your core muscles, which will strengthen them and lead to fewer back problems.
Focus On Core Engagement
There are so many ways to strengthen your core, but what is most important is that you are really focusing on engaging your core muscles while working out. Anyone who has ever performed an at-home video workout probably has heard that phrase before, but what does “engaging your core” really feel like? Many people assume that engaging your core means sucking in your stomach, but that is not it. Think of the contraction that happens in your core right before you laugh or cough. If it helps, try placing your hand on your abs, oblique or lower back before coughing or laughing to really get a sense of what an engaged core feels like. This practice will help you understand what your core should be doing when you are working up a sweat.
Dr. Mohr has videos demonstrating a few core strengthening moves (and other exercises) that you can try at home. These videos can be found here.
If you think you are experiencing back pain due to weak core muscles, give our office a call and we would love to answer any additional questions you may have!