“Dr. Smith, I’ve had lower back pain in the past. Are there any exercises I can do to prevent this?” Andy T.

plank

“Dr. Smith, I’ve had lower back pain in the past.  Are there any exercises I can do to prevent this?”  Andy T.

Although Chiropractors see patients for reasons other than lower back pain, a large percentage of people visit one for that reason. Low back pain is the 5th most common reason for seeing a physician in the US and it is the most frequent reason for activity limitation in people under 45. Most of these cases are non-organic in nature. In other words, not related to serious conditions such as inflammatory arthritis, cancer, fractures, or infection. Most causes of low back issues are due to accidental strains of the soft tissues of lower back during activities or poor posture. These likelihood of these strains are fewer in people with strong core muscles.

 The term core muscles refers to the muscles of your stomach and back. A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to a decrease in core muscle strength and an increase in low back issues. Strong core muscles are essential to low back health because they support your spine and keep it stable, balanced, and safe from injury. They make simple, daily activities more manageable by assisting with everything from getting dressed to reaching for a heavy platter from the cupboard. In other words, strong core muscles take pressure off of the spine by working in harmony and providing the postural support necessary to stay balanced any time the body is in motion.

 Core exercises help you strengthen your core muscles. The best part about them is that they don’t take specialized equipment or an expensive gym membership to do. Any exercise that uses the trunk of your body without support counts. This can include squats, push-ups, and abdominal crunches. For a particularly effective core strengthening exercise,try the plank position done in yoga. Lie face down on a mat resting on the forearms with palms flat on the floor. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. Keep your back flat and in a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle. Hold for 20 to 40 seconds, lower and repeat for 3-5 reps.

 While core strengthening is vital to low back health, the best thing one can do to prevent future problems is to get adjusted regularly.  It’s important to make sure each spinal  bone is moving properly thereby ensuring that the nerves coming off of the spinal cord at each level are able to send messages to the muscles you’re strengthening in a timely manner.

As with any exercise program, be sure to consult a trained professional to assist you. Body positioning and proper alignment are crucial when strengthening the core muscles. Make sure to focus on the quality of movement rather than the quantity and listen to your body by taking a break when you need one. Consider including some core strengthening moves in your fitness routine to prevent any unnecessary back pain and as always, let us know if we can assist you with any of your spinal and healthcare needs.  Thanks for the great question, Andy!