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Core strength exercises and back pain

Core Strength Exercises and Back Pain

Core strengthening for back pain

With 85% of the population having experienced back pain at some point in their lives, there comes many questions and approaches on how to best manage the pain and the root problem causing the pain.

The cost of chronic back pain to society is billions of dollars, so having the most comprehensive and evidence based approach to having you feeling better, as pain free as possible, able to move and function and return to work or activities of daily living is vital – both for mental and physical health.

The approach to back pain used to be… REST… But, as evidence shows, rest can make things worse when it is the only method of treatment prescribed. Rest may be an important part of the recovery, but many other components are important as well – these include movement, exercises, manual therapy, medication, balanced diet, sleep, stress avoidance and other complementary therapies.

As Osteopaths in Melbourne, we see people who suffer with acute and chronic pain. Ie, pain that is short lived and resolves quickly, or chronic, which is present for over 3-6 months. Both types of pain, and the reasons causing the underlying pain, require the correct diagnosis to enable the correct treatment and rehab management plan.

Exercises will most always be prescribed as part of a rehabilitation program for someone who is recovering from an injury. These injuries may include muscle tear, tendonitis, arthritis, disc bulge, sciatica and pelvic instability to name just a few.

“So what does “core strength” actually mean and how do you do exercises for your core” is a question we are commonly asked in clinic.

To put it simply, your core muscles are those muscles that support your spine. They also support your pelvis and spinal position. Muscles that make up your core include your deep lower back muscles, deep abdominal muscles and your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles should all actively work together to provide stability, support and enable functional movement and mobility.

Recently evidence has shown than yes “core” exercises are important, but a general exercise program, including functional movement can improve core muscle activation patterns and help decrease pain symptoms.  Core strength work is not proven to prevent lower back pain or decrease further flare- ups of back pain. Having good muscular support of the whole spine and body helps enable a more functional unit, therefore offload structures which may be causing or contributing to an underlying painful problem.

For example, if someone has a disc bulge, rehabilitation will involve strength, mobility and flexibility based exercises for the lower back, deep abdominal muscles, gluteal muscles ie pelvis and hip muscles, as well as mid back muscles.  And, as the body functions and moves as a whole unit, it is important to realize that when strengthening an area that may have some weakness or injury, it is important to strengthen the surrounding areas as well – not just the “core”.

Your Osteopath will prescribe a specific program for you, and you only – as your complaint, your ability to move, your pain and your medical history will be different to your friend, neighbour, partner or the patient we have in before you at the clinic  – even though you both may have a similar disc bulge! So please ask for help, get the right advice, and learn how to do the correct exercise, rehabilitation and “core” strength work required for your body! And feel better!

Categories: General Information