Getting to the Core...How True "Core Stability" Can Help to Protect Your Low Back

Low Back Pain…It’s normal right?

Low back pain is a common phenomenon in the world. It’s a condition that can be a constant complaint to some people, and an episodic annoyance to others with no definite solution in sight. But, a lot of times those who deal with low back pain on a regular basis, resign themselves to the discomfort and the inconvenience, feeling that even if they win the battle against one flair-up, another incident is just around the corner. So why fight it? Why not just surrender?

Low back pain has become a frequent and costly diagnosis that plagues roughly 38% of the population at some point in time. It is one of the top injuries to cause professional athletes to be benched during a match. As many as 30% of professional athletes have reported having low back pain complaints for multiple years (1). Low back pain has become so engrained in the norm of everyday culture that it’s almost expected. It’s something that you have to “suck it up and deal with” or “ignore it and go about your business.”

Low back pain is a common complaint, but it is also one of the most mysterious when it comes to delving beyond the symptoms and finding the exact root cause of the problem. Don’t just treat the site of pain. Nothing in the body works alone. It is all interconnected. The muscles of the body have to do their jobs and work together to provide stability for the low back.

 

Let’s Box It Out…

“Core Stability” is a popular trend in the world of physical fitness right now. Having abs that look like a six pack is at the top of a lot of wish lists. But, the abdominal muscles are only a single component of the human core. And all of those parts have to be equal in strength and stability to do their jobs. Thinking of “the core” as a box, the top would be the thoracic diaphragm, the walls would be the superficial and deep abdominal muscles, and the bottom would be the pelvic floor complex (1). Now, all of these muscle groups have to work together for optimal “core stabilization” and in turn protect the lumbar spine.

Over the next couple of entries, we’ll explore the myths and fads involving “the core.” We’ll talk about why the thoracic diaphragm is so important (and whether you’re actually using yours), how to engage your deep stabilizing muscles, and most importantly how the Pelvic Floor Muscle Complex is a rock star among muscles and the “play-maker” of the core complex. Without the interactions and engagements of these muscle groups, our lumbar spine doesn’t stand a chance.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby Scheer, DC

 

Reference:

1. Boyle KL, Olinick J, Lewis C. The value of blowing up a balloon. N Am J Sports Phys Ther. 2010;5(3):179-88.

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