Core strength is more than a six pack

Exercise and at-home rehab are common topics that comes up in our office, as we see many patients with chronic back pain, sciatica, and/or disc bulges. Stretches can be a great way to help alleviate or manage some of these symptoms, and certain exercises are also important to support the alignment of the neck and back.

However, one common misconception is the understanding of the core and how it works. Put yourself to the test; where is the core? If you are like many of our patients, you may point toward the abdomen or the abs (six pack muscle). While the abdominal muscles do play a role, they are not the solitary players. The core is several muscles, located between the diaphragm and pelvis, that play an important role in supporting your spine, internal organs, and pelvis. These muscles wrap 360 degrees around the body. An exhaustive list may include: the internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominus, the transverse abdominus, the pelvic floor muscles, the erector spinae, the multifundus, the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus and even the trapezius. This means that even if you have a six-pack, you could still potentially experience weakness or imbalance of the core muscles. This weakness of the core is often associated with low back pain, and strengthening your core can aid in decreasing back pain.

Now that we know what our core actually is, let’s discuss its function. All of these muscles work together to stabilize, support and protect the spine. We use our core to do almost everything during our daily lives from putting on your shoes, sitting at your desk, and even housework. These muscles are commonly weak or asymmetrical due to lifestyle, posture, trauma, and degeneration. There are many benefits from performing even simple exercises to strengthen the core and stabilize the spine, no gym equipment required.

If you find your lumbar adjustments are not holding for very long, weak or imbalanced core muscles may be the culprit. If you want to learn more, our doctors would love to talk to you about improving your core strength and wellness.