Getting To The Core Of Back Problems

An overwhelming number of back pain cases can be traced back to the sedentary lifestyle that has become commonplace in modern times. Without the need for an active day-to-day routine, many people allow their health to fall by the wayside. One of the problems that arise from this is an underdeveloped "core." Although situated at the front of the body, a weak core can result in serious back problems, and is the root cause of many chiropractic visits.

What Exactly Are The Core Muscles?

The core muscles lie deep within the trunk of your body and attach to the spinal column and pelvic bone. They are commonly referred to as abdominals; however, your core is actually made up of a number of small muscle groups. With patients suffering from back pain, two particular muscle groups have been highlighted as a contributing factor:

  • The transverse abdominus – the deepest of the abdominals, wrapping around your waist and offering stability to the spinal column.
  • The multifidus muscles – a smaller group of muscles located close to the spine. 

These muscles are hidden deep inside your core, so you can't feel them from the surface. However, that doesn't make them any less important!

Why Are Core Muscles So Important?

If you've ever ventured into the world of fitness or sports, you've likely heard the importance of a strong core. This is true not only for athletes, but for everyone, whether in active competition or not. The reason for this is that your core muscles act to stabilize the entire body, offering particular support to the lumbar (lower) spine.

Your core muscles act to hold your spine in proper alignment. These are the muscles that keep your spine in its gentle S-shape, and prevent your back from suffering subluxations. If you have underdeveloped core strength, your spine is not being offered adequate support and may cause you some problems.

What Spinal Problems Can Occur From Underdeveloped Core Muscles?

A common problem seen in many chiropractic offices is that of kyphosis. This is more commonly known as "hunchback" and is characterized by the poor posture seen in many teenagers. Although the majority of kyphosis cases can be solved by adopting proper posture, the problem can become more severe if left untouched.

Poor posture causes the core muscles to contract, making them smaller over time. As the muscles become weak, they are unable to offer the support required to hold the spine upright. This exacerbates the kyphotic curve of the spine, which can lead to severe discomfort in patients.

What Can Be Done to Strengthen the Core Muscles?

If you currently have underdeveloped core strength, then you should implement some training to strengthen the muscles and give your back the support it needs. You're probably already familiar with crunches and sit-ups; however, your core is a complex collection of muscles that each need strengthened in different ways. Below are some ways to target each muscle:

  • Plank – If you've been involved in fitness, you'll know what the plank is. This exercise targets your entire core and is extremely easy to carry out. To perform, lie facing the ground and use your forearms to lift your chest and hips off of the ground. Hold this position for as long as you can.
  • Cable rotation – For this, you'll need access to a gym or resistance bands. To start, stand holding a cable with both hands extended out in front of you. Without moving your elbows, rotate your upper body to each side. Complete for as many reps as you can.  This exercise targets your obliques (side abdominals).
  • Cross crunch – Lie on your back with arms and legs outstretched in an "X" shape. Without bending at the knees or elbows, bring your right hand towards your left foot, and then vice-versa. This is a great exercise for your lower abs.
  • Roll-out – With a Pilates ball, kneel on the ground and roll the ball forward as far as you can. Roll back to the starting position whilst keeping your abs engaged for a great exercise that strengthens your rectus abdominis. 

As with any spinal condition, it's important that you seek medical advice from a qualified professional before starting any training. Your chiropractor will be able to offer you the advice you need, creating you both a treatment and exercise plan that will have your back troubles fixed in no time.