Core Fitness

Core fitness is the most important factor in treating and preventing lower back pain.

It is the core muscles that are engaged or activated to some degree with every move we make.

Core strength is only as strong as its weakest muscle. Failure of any one muscle to perform its part in stabilization, proper stretch and balanced movement can cause injury. This injury can be in the form of macro-trauma, such as a torn muscle (strain), or micro trauma, as is found in repetitive motion injuries, such as repetitive bending, lifting and twisting.

Macro trauma is felt quite suddenly due to initiation of pain. Whereas, micro trauma is more subtle. With repetitive motion the micro-trauma may go unnoticed until the “last straw that breaks the camels back” incident occurs. Examples of this final result of micro-trauma can be disc herniation or facet syndrome.

With every conscious movement or motion the core muscle groups are activated to varying degrees. It is usually an unconscious contraction from everyday activities. But it can also be the result of conscious motion such as when exercising or training. With conscious training to develop core fitness, the core muscles will then be conditioned and programmed to re-actively react when needed or called upon unconsciously.

Core fitness is essential for sports performance. However, it is just as important for all movement.

What Are Core Muscles

The core is made up of the abdominal muscles, lower back muscles, pelvic floor muscles, the diaphragm, the lumbar spine, and to a lesser extent the gluteus, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius muscles.

Core Muscles Effect Posture

It is the core that helps determine posture to a great extent. Therefore, it is essential that the core be able to remain stable, strong and balanced in order to prevent injury and allow normal body movement or function.

Posture reacts to the amount, speed and direction of forces it is subjected to. The core's primary function is to align and stabilize the body in a proper resistant posture, whether it be stationary(static) or moving (dynamic), to forces subjected to it.

The greater the forces...the greater the need for core fitness.

All resistance, whether in a static position or dynamic movement, is a balancing act among all the core muscles and structures of the body.

Core Balance Is Essential

When imbalances exist, be it in strength, alignment or endurance, there is a greater propensity to injury.

A major consideration with lower back pain help or recovery is that core muscles may harbor trigger points that will disrupt strength, function, alignment, endurance, and stability even though that muscle still possesses its inherent strength.

In other words, a muscle that possesses normal strength and function in the absence of trigger points will become less so in the presence of trigger points. Once the trigger points are effectively treated and eliminated the strength and function will return to its normal state without the need for protracted rehabilitation, provided you were relatively fit prior to the trigger points activation or onset. .

However, the muscle will remain prone to recurrences of trigger points and dysfunction and, therefore, needs to be strengthened further to aid in preventing such recurrences.

This is done by developing and maintaining core strength, stability, endurance and flexibility. Muscle must be balanced relative to their opposing muscle or muscle group.

Core muscle training can be specific to a core muscle or general, as is the case in functional core training. Core workouts must not just build strong core muscles and core stability. They should also develop core power, endurance, and flexibility.

Early in rehabilitation recovery, specific and targeted training may be needed. As recovery continues you should transition from specific exercises to general. The performance of general exercises is a more dynamic approach with exercise directed at overall functionality as its goal.

Examples of specific exercises that isolate a specific muscle or muscle group include: abdominal crunches, low back extension, side bends, leg curls, and leg extension. More advanced and functional exercises that incorporate multiple muscles and muscle groups and two or more joints are side bridging, squats, dead-lifts, superman position, plank position and the use of wobble or balance boards.

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