Building a Strong Core Is Your Best Defense Against Back Pain

Every day, millions of Americans wake up to, and go to bed with, back pain, namely low back pain. In fact, 80% of the population experiences low back pain at some point during their lives, and it’s the chief reason behind missed work days.

At The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, Dr. Thomas Jones II specializes in back pain and offers a number of innovative therapies and treatments to help his patients in Pearland and Bellaire, Texas, relieve their pain.

While Dr. Jones does his part to solve the immediate problem, you can ensure long-lasting results by doing a little work on your own; namely providing your back some extra support by building a stronger core.

A strong core is not only effective in helping you manage back pain, it’s your best defense against low back pain in the first place.

A look at back pain

To help you better understand how core muscles can help your back, it’s helpful to step back and take a look at the basic musculoskeletal structure in your back. At the heart of your back are the 33 vertebrae and 23 discs that run from your head down to your pelvis, which provide the underlying foundation for almost your entire body.

Helping these vertebrae are a host of secondary players, including your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which all work together to allow you a wide range of motion and incredible support. But your back is only as good as the sum of its parts and if any one area isn’t pulling its weight, your whole back can be thrown off, often leading to back pain.

This is especially true of the core muscles, which include the muscles in your back, in your abdomen, along your sides (your lats), and your glutes. These muscles provide stability and support for your trunk, helping keep your body upright and moving freely.

The core of the matter

Your core muscles are aptly named, given the foundational role they play in helping your spine with its burden.  As we mentioned earlier, weak muscles in your back or in your abdomen can set your entire back off balance, taxing certain areas more than others. For example, strong core muscles can prevent degenerative issues by keeping your spine properly aligned. If your muscles are weak, all of the burden falls to your discs to provide the necessary cushioning between your vertebrae, and there’s only so much they can handle before pain sets in.

By strengthening the muscles in your core, you provide much-needed support, taking the pressure off of any one area and allowing your back to function better as a whole.

Even it out

The human body functions best when it’s balanced, which is especially true when it comes to your back. While your spine relies on your erector spinae and multifidus muscles for direct support, the muscles that are in front of, below, and to the sides of your back have an enormous impact as well. You can build up the muscles in your back, but if you aren’t balancing these efforts out elsewhere, you aren’t spreading out the workload as you should.

Your core muscles are all connected, and when each of them is shouldering some of the burden, they work together smoothly, providing almost effortless support. If some of the muscle groups are weaker than the others, you favor them and put more pressure on the stronger ones, creating an imbalance that can lead to back pain.

The key to back support and preventing low back pain is to make sure that all of your core muscles are equally strong, providing support from every angle.

Muscle up

Building good core muscles doesn’t take much time and effort: If you spend just 5-10 minutes a day isolating and strengthening these muscles, you’ll reap the rewards in no time.

One of the best core exercises is the plank, which works all of your muscles equally. A great way to get going is to take the 30-day plank challenge. For five minutes each day, perform a series of planks, from high planks on your hands to forearm planks, and the many variations in between (like side planks). This small daily effort delivers huge rewards when it comes to preventing back pain, as well as decreasing existing back pain.

You can also do leg lifts, bridges, sit-ups, and many more to strengthen your core muscles, but it’s hard to beat the basic plank for overall results.

If you have more questions about strengthening your core muscles to prevent back pain, please give us a call. Or use the online scheduling tool on this website to book an appointment.

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