How many times have you heard that you need to strengthen your core?

Everyone knows that having good core strength is important and is a major factor in preventing low back pain.  Good core strength also helps you with your balance, stability, and posture, and it will help you in sports-related activities.

You can’t strengthen it if you don’t know what it is!

When you are strengthening something improperly or if you get it wrong, you’re looking at more back problems, pelvic health issues, and even neck and shoulder pain.

So what is the core anyway?

Most people say that the core is the abdominals, which include the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and internal/external obliques.

This is correct, but the truth is that it includes much more! 

You should think of the core as everything from the tops of your knees to the middle of your torso, which includes all directions (365 degrees).

A big mistake is that people only train their abdominal muscles, they forget about the hips, the spine, and the muscles that run up, down, or deep.

Basically, anything that transmits forces into the spine or torso should be trained.
Basic crunches are NOT the way to go, especially if you have lower back pain or participate in sports.

What should you do instead to strengthen your core?

  1. Proper breathing technique –  Start with diaphragmatic breathing and learn how to breathe properly.  You do not realize that about 15 times per minute you are taking a deep breath, and all these core muscles have to work every time.  Poor breathing patterns will shift your core strength away from the center and towards the neck, and chest.  Your deepest abdominal muscles, the pelvic floor muscles, the deepest back muscles, and your diaphragm are part of this equation.  These four muscle groups work together to control intra-abdominal pressure – which is essential to facilitating a strong deep core connection.
  2. Think about different motions:  Most core exercises that people do are only in one direction.  You must incorporate different ranges of motions, and challenge the core in all directions.  Remember, your body will get stronger and if you do not challenge it properly, you will not get the core to “Turn On.”
  3. Add rotational strength:  One of the hardest core exercises is rotational strength.  This is because it places more pressure on the core and spine but is also the least trained.  If you play sports, especially Jiu-Jitu, Golf, Tennis, Baseball, Hockey, etc (rotational sport), this is critical.  Remember, these exercises are more difficult, and require more time to develop.  Improper form, technique, or progress too quickly can increase the chances of injury in the spine!

Now that you know what the core actually is (EVERYTHING), we need to show you better ways to train it!

Next week, I will share more things you can do to improve core strength!

Keep. Moving!

Dr. Josh

PS If you’re in San Diego, CA, and need help NOW, for your back pain, then schedule a FREE Discovery Visit.  We’ll tell you if we can help & get you on your treatment plan immediately.

PPS Want some help on the best exercises for core strength to help back pain? Sign up for our low back pain course waitlist.   These are some EXACT exercises we use in our clinic with patients!