If you suffer from intense low back pain, strengthen the muscles in your core. Your core muscles can weaken due to many things, including childbirth, obesity, and disease. A weak core forces the muscles in your back to work harder to perform daily tasks, such as sitting, walking, and bending. Over time, pain develops in your upper or lower back.
By learning more about your core and how it affects your back, you can alleviate your pain.
How Can a Weak Core Affect Your Back?
For most people, the core describes the large muscles found in the middle of the abdomen. However, the core is so much more than one group of muscles. In fact, your core includes the large and small muscles in your chest, abdomen, pelvis, hips, and buttocks. The core also extends to the paraspinal muscles in your back.
The paraspinal muscles are the second layer of muscles in your back. The muscles travel along the sides of the spine and do many important things for you. For example, your paraspinal muscles:
- Allow your spinal bones to move freely when you bend, flex, or arch your back
- Control how far and deep your abdominal muscles go during movement
- Work with your abdominal muscles to keep your upper body upright
When your abdominal muscles weaken, the paraspinal muscles are forced to work harder to support your body. Over time, the muscles begin to ache from the tension created on your spinal nerves and other tissues. The aches can quickly become painful spasms that travel throughout your back, especially your lower back, buttocks, and legs.
You can overcome the pain you experience with the right tips.
How Can You Strengthen and Stabilize Your Core?
Before you move forward with strengthening your core, consider a few things first. Until you become stronger in your core, avoid exercises that specifically target or isolate your abdominal muscles, such as sit-ups and crunches. Although helpful, isolated core exercises can strain your lower back and paraspinal muscles.
If pregnancy weakened your abdominal or pelvic muscles, consult with a doctor before you engage in any core exercises. During pregnancy, the large muscles traveling down your abdomen separate to accommodate the growth of your baby. The muscles can remain separated in some women and cause pain when targeted.
The pubic bone and its ligaments can also weaken during pregnancy. Core exercises like side lunges and leg scissors can trigger pain in the pubic region. A doctor may offer unique treatments like therapeutic exercise to improve your core and back pain. Therapeutic exercise targets different body areas without creating stress and strain.
If you can move forward without complications, you can try the simple exercise below. The exercise targets the areas between your shoulders and buttocks.
Here's what you do:
- Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Be sure to keep your feet straight and place a small bend in your knees.
- Take a deep breath, then gently exhale. Tighten your abdominal muscles as much as you can during the exhale.
- Hold your back straight and relax your shoulders.
- Raise your arms and place them in front of your body.
- Move your arms up and down slowly as if you're performing the "dog paddle" in a swimming pool. The movements should be small and precise.
- Perform step 5 for about 20–30 seconds, then lower your arms to rest.
- Repeat the exercise two more times, or until you feel tired.
You should feel the muscles tighten in your shoulders, arms, abdomen, buttocks, back, and pelvis. If your pain becomes worse during and after performing the exercise, stop and contact a chiropractor for further assistance.
To learn more about your unique situation and to find permanent treatment, schedule an appointment with the Downtown Chiropractic and Orthotic Center today.