More often than not when we have back pain, one familiar reason it seems to be put down to is “weak core muscles”. This can be what leads to so many people attending Pilates classes and searching the internet for ‘core’ exercises, however we can often be left disappointed if we find that these “core” exercises do not help our back pain after a period of time.
Have you been told you have a “weak core”? If so then how was this theory proven? What tests why done? Just because we suffer from back pain it shouldn’t be assumed that the ‘core’ is a weak. Sometimes by carrying out ‘core’ exercises to strengthen our assumed weak core we could actually make our back pain worse!
When you suffer from back pain it is not advisable to assume our ‘core’ is weak and to correct this problem ourselves, by searching exercises on the internet for example. The first point of call as with any issue would be your GP. After that it is best to see a good healthcare professional who will be able to fully asses you and able to give you a more detailed answer as to what potential problems could be causing your back pain, which should include an appropriate corrective exercise programme.
Here are the most common reasons we find for our clients suffering with back pain:
1.Pelvis Biomechanics – If the pelvis does not function as it should then somewhere down the line we are more than likely going to have some degree of back pain. For the spine to sit in it correct position and for it to carry its correct function we need to have a good functioning pelvis. More often we find this not to be case. Remember that our abdominals and lower back muscles attach on to our pelvis, so if the pelvis isn’t functioning correctly then some of these muscles will be overactive and potentially painful (lower back for example) whilst the opposite muscles will appear weak (abdominals in this occasion).
2. Lack of hip joint movement – The hip is meant to be the most mobile joint in the body. If the hip does not have full range of movement, then the pelvis will have to overwork to make up for it (most of the time we don’t realise we are doing it either). Remember the abdominals and lower back muscles attach onto the pelvis, so they will end up being under worked and most likely painful, whilst the opposite muscles will appear weak.
3. Ignore the inner core muscles – The ‘core’ exercises of choice are usually the familiar ones. Planks, sit up’s, crunches etc. Whilst these exercises may give us the “feeling the burn” feeling they are unlikely to help us with back pain. We need to understand we have inner and outer core muscles. Our inner core muscles help stabilise the spine, and need to be active for any chance for ‘core’ exercises to be effective. Our inner core muscles consist of pelvic floor, diaphragm and Transverse abdominis. We need to fully understand how to activate these inner core muscles before we even consider which “core” exercises to do.
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About the author
I am a Manual Therapist covering a range of different disciplines including massage & Biomechanics. I also run small specialist Pilates classes around Corfe Mullen, Broadstone, Wareham, Wimborne & Poole. Instead of just purely rubbing the pain, I always look to see if I can find a potential cause (or causes of the pain) and then work on treating this.
Pilates Instructor & Therapist, helping you understand why we do what we do!