Building A Strong Core For A Better BackReading Time: 3 minutes
The core serves as a support for the spine. The core is comprised of the front abdominals, side obliques, transverse abdominis, multifidus, and erector spinae. Weak stomach muscles can throw off spinal alignment, balance, and place strain on the back. Poor posture stresses the ligaments and discs of the spine, overstretching the lower back muscles. Creating a strong core is not reserved only for the super fit. Core strengthening exercises can be performed in a gym or at home.
1. Partial crunches are better than full sit-ups.
Full sit-ups place strain on the neck and lower back. The average person uses hip muscles to pull the body upwards instead of using core muscles. Overstressed hip muscles will pull on the lower back. Discomfort is often noticed after only a few reps. Instead of full sit-ups, partial crunches are recommended. The individual should lie on the back, with the knees bent. The lower back, tailbone, and feet should remain flat against the floor during the entire exercise. Arms can be behind the head or across the chest. As the individual breathes out, tighten the stomach muscles and lift the shoulders slightly. To ease the stress on the neck, people can place an orange or tennis ball under the chin. Do not pull the neck up to lift the shoulders, as this will only increase the pain. Hold the position for a few seconds and then slowly lower the shoulders to the floor. Repeat the exercise 10 times for a minimum of two sets.
2. Wall sits are the way to go
Wall sits can be done at home or even in the office. The exercise is one of the easiest ones out there. To ensure the exercise is done properly, the individual should start by standing approximately one foot away from the wall. Next, lean back against the wall until the back is flat. Slowly slide down the wall until the knees are at a 90-degree angle. Pressing the lower back into the wall will help keep the back flat and in alignment. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then slowly stand up. Repeat the exercise 10 times for a minimum of two sets.
3. Build a bridge
Bridges are a more advanced exercise. The individual starts out in the same position as partial crunches. Instead of having the feet flat, only the heels are against the floor, the toes are up. As the hips are raised, the heels should be pushed into the floor. Tighten both the glutes and abdominals as the hips are lifted. Make sure not to arch the lower back when raising the hips as this can strain the lower back. Hold the position for 10 seconds and slowly lower the back down to the floor. Holding a block or folded towel between the knees can help keep the core engaged. Repeat the exercise 10 times for a minimum of two sets.
Exercise is essential
Movement is healthy for strong muscles. Creating a strong core does not require hours in a gym with a personal trainer. Specific exercises done at home can help create a stronger back and both alleviate and prevent back pain. For more recommendations on back pain prevention, speak with a spine specialist.