Lower Back Pain and Your “Core”

Exercise can be used for pain relief in people with low back pain.  The aim is to control back pain and prevent its reoccurrence through a series of exercises to enhance muscle control of the spinal segment.  With low back pain, the deep stabilising muscles of the spine “switch off” and do not turn back on again without specific exercises and retraining.  Our bodies are good at adapting and start using the outer muscles of the abdomen and back (which should move the spine and then switch off) to stabilise. When the inner layer or “core” muscles stop working the outer layer overworks and becomes tight, which leads to back muscle tightness and lack of flexibility.  People with back pain have trouble relaxing these muscles and must learn to do this by working the inner layer and turning that layer on first so the outer muscles do not have to work so hard at “bracing”.  “Core” exercises do not use “bracing” or sit ups, but a series of initially very basic exercises learning to turn the muscle on and then train the muscle functionally.

By Melanie Roberts

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