To many fitness enthusiasts, the core is everything. What is ‘core’? Core refers to your abdominal area, including your front abdominal muscles – but it also refers to the other surrounding areas of your body’s center, like your back and sides. Your core kind of holds everything together, so it’s extremely important that you keep it strong to avoid putting unnecessary strain on other parts of your body like your spine.
Regularly training your core is actually a great way to prevent back pain. Let’s look more closely at why focusing on your core is so beneficial for your back.
Core Strength – A Necessity for a Healthy Back
It’s natural to assume that the pain you are feeling in your back originates there. After all, you feel pain in your back and you know there are tons of nerves there just waiting to be irritated. But you might be surprised to discover that although the pain may technically start there, the cause of that pain could originate somewhere less obvious. A weak core can cause issues with your back in several ways:
Putting strain where it doesn’t belong.
Your body is made up of so many bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles and soft tissues that listing them all would take more than the length of this article. What all of those parts have in common, though, is that they are designed to work together to maintain optimal health and function. Your spine certainly plays a major role in the structure of your body and the joints that make up your spine can sustain injuries that will lead to back pain. But many times, the cause of your back pain is not a back injury – it’s irritation resulting from weak core muscles. The strain of moving out in your day to day life causes friction in your spinal joints, irritating nerves and fatiguing areas that are not designed to provide so much support.
When you strengthen your core, you put things back in their proper order. Your core muscles take much of the strain that comes from body movement so that strain doesn’t land on the weaker, less resilient parts of your spine.
Increasing the likelihood of injury.
When your body is healthy, it tends to operate pretty well. While injuries and accidents can definitely happen to a healthy body, they are less likely than with a weaker, unhealthy body. Having a strong, healthy core provides extra insurance against injuries to your back. You could think of it like the suspension system on your car. You don’t have to know a lot about cars to know that they need shocks to cushion the bumps in the road. Your core serves in a similar capacity. When you slip and have to catch yourself, the muscles wrapping your abdomen tighten and absorb shocks. But if you don’t have much core strength, your core can only provide a little cushion – not enough to avoid unpleasant shocks to your spine.
Is it hard to build core strength?
Not necessarily. Is it hard to develop and maintain serious abs that everyone can admire when you take your shirt off? Yes. It’s actually a full-time job, which is why only models, actors and professional athletes do it. It’s not nearly as hard to have a strong, healthy core. Simply engaging in regular exercises strengthen your core significantly because the muscles have to hold you steady while you move. And if you want, you can start doing some simple exercises that increase core strength directly – like planks.
If you would like more information about how to strengthen your core in a safe, healthy way, talk to your chiropractor. Please contact us – your chiropractic team – to learn more about improving your health!