Core strengthening and core stability are common terms thrown out in the fitness injury as well as the rehabilitation setting. It is an important feature in most fitness routines to not only help people look good but also prevent and alleviate back pain.
Back pain is the leading cause of disability globally and about 20% of cases become chronic (lasting longer than 12 weeks). Despite how common this condition is it still offers many challenges in terms of treating it effectively. Exercise, movement, and more specifically core strengthening has been shown to help alleviate back pain .
The core is difficult to define as it is more than just the front (6 back muscles) that we often think about. Ideally, when exercising and performing core exercises you want to strengthen the muscles of the front, side, back, and even the buttock muscles.
If you want a good all-around core exercise program try out some of our videos below. It is important to remember that this is great for strengthening muscles and preventing back pain from occurring. However, if you are in acute bouts of pain then it is always best to get assessed by your chiropractor who can develop a plan the is specific to your needs.
5 Core Stability Exercises
1. Dead Bug and its variations: In the video below Josh takes us through a few progressions of one of our favourite exercises. He starts in the dead bug starting position and starts by simply moving one arm at a time overhead. He then progresses to letting his heals tap on the floor.
The last variation is moving opposite arm and legs at the same time. It is important to keep a natural curve in your low back without overextending or flexing too much.
Also, keep a core brace by imagining that someone is going to poke you in the belly. Do this while maintaining your breath. Try 2 sets of 5-10 repetitions each side
2. Curl Up: This exercise helps strengthen those 6 pack muscles we all want to achieve. This is a great exercise when performed correctly because it does not put an added stress to the spine, low back, and hip flexors like a traditional sit-up would. Try 2 sets of 10 repetitions
3. Side bridge: this exercise strengthens the muscles on the side of our abdominal area called the obliques. Start with your elbow on the ground directly underneath your shoulder. As you press through the ground bring your body up to create a straight line from your knee, hip, and shoulder. Start by simply holding for 20 seconds per side and repeating twice.
4. Glute Bridge: While lying on your back with knees bent, tighten your lower abdominals, squeeze your buttock and then raise your buttock off the floor/bed as creating a "Bridge" with your body. Hold for a second or two and then lower yourself. Try 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
5. Bird dog: This will probably be the most difficult exercise. It is excellent at strengthening the core and back muscles while putting very little stress on the spine. Start in a crawling position with hands directly under the shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Brace at your abdominals and then slowly lift a leg and opposite arm upwards. Lower leg and arm down and then repeat with the opposite side. Try to imagine you want to balance a ball on your low back. This will prevent you from rotating your pelvis too much. Try starting out with 2 sets of 5-10 repetitions each side.
If you like these exercises be sure to check out our previous routine on low back mobility. https://www.allsystemschiro.ca/post/low-back-mobility-routine
1. Owen PJ, Miller CT, Mundell NL, et al Which specific modes of exercise training are most effective for treating low back pain? Network meta-analysis British Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 30 October 2019. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2019-100886