With the New Year, many people will start out with a resolution of losing weight and exercising. Any exercising, either it being walking if you are just starting out or doing hard core exercising like Crossfit, movement is beneficial for your health. One area that we see that tends to need work is the core muscles. Core stability is important because it helps transfer force though our body. Weak core muscles are usually a factor in someone with lower back pain. Our core muscles are around your abdomen like a big belt. The major muscles include starting at the front: rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, diaphragm and pelvic floor; on the side- your oblique muscles and quadratus lumborum; and along the back, the erector spinae muscles. Together, these muscles form your core complex and weakness can in any of the major muscle groups, causing a muscle imbalance leading to pain.
There are many different exercises out there for core strength and endurance but there are better exercises than others. Everyone knows the crunch and sit-up but those exercises are actually not very good for your back. They cause a lumbar flexion and rounding of the lower back, which increases the possibility of injuring your lower back or a disc. The exercises you should do instead include bird dog or supermans, deadbug, bridge and planks (front and side). These exercises minimize stress to lower back and emphasize core stability.
One exercise that we teach to start with is the Bird Dog/Quadruped. It is a good starting exercise that can be made more difficult. It can also be modified to be done using an exercise ball for those with knee problems.
To start, begin on all fours- hands and knees.
1. Place knees at 90 degree angle to hips and hip width apart. Create a box with shoulders and hands under shoulders.
2. Maintain a slightly curve in lower back but keep spine parallel with the ground. Your neck should be in line with your spine.
3. Brace your abs- not moving the lower back but outwardly bracing your core muscles- similar to when you try to blow up a balloon.
4. Hold the ab brace and then slowly raise one leg, kicking it back through 6 seconds slowly and then repeat on other leg.
5. Continue to breath while doing the exercise. Repeat 5 times, working up to 10 times.
To make the exercise harder, try raising left leg and right arm together while keeping core braced. If you have any questions or before starting an exercise programs, please contact a medical professional. Look for part 2, with other core stability exercises to come.
Here at Fletcher Chiropractic in Lincoln, Nebraska, we pride ourselves on providing simple tips for starting exercise programs and keeping you moving. Along with a good exercise program, chiropractic and soft tissue therapy helps to keep you at your best. Give us a call today for a free consultation and see how we can help you gain core stability and have no pain with working out.