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4 Simple Exercises to Improve Your Core Stability

There are countless rehab exercise programs floating around, promising to improve core stability and cure low back pain, much of which all revolve around the same basic principles. That is, strengthening the transverse abdominus, gluteals, and lumbar extensor muscles, that aid in supporting and controlling movement in the lumbopelvic region. It has been shown that this can reduce low back pain, and it should make an integral part of your treatment regime. (1) (2)

Core stability exercises don’t need to be hard and complicated. In fact, I have found clinically,  that people get better improvements with exercises that are simple and easy to perform, and therefore more likely to be done on a regular basis! There is actually still some uncertainty in the research as to the effectiveness of specific core stability exercises over general exercise for reducing low back pain. (3) (4)

Here are 4 core stability exercises that I get all of my patients with lower back pain performing, especially if I suspect there is a deficiency in activation of the core muscles.

1. Anterior Pelvic Tilt (Transverse Abdominus Activation)

The transverse abdominus can be a difficult muscle to contract, and performing a pelvic tilt can be a helpful way to get it firing. Lie on your back with bent knees and your feet flat on the floor. Try to pull your bellybutton down towards your spine, while at the same time clenching your buttock muscles. You should feel your tail bone rolling up off the floor. Hold this for a 10 seconds, relax and then repeat. You should be able to perform this while still breathing. It is helpful to also perform this during day-to-day activities such as sitting at the desk and walking.

Image taken from Physitrack® www.physitrack.com.au

2. The Dead Bug

While lying on your back, bring your legs up in the air with your hips and knees both bent to 90 degrees. Bring your arms up, pointing straight up vertically over your head. Ensuring you keep your back flat, slowly lower your opposite arm and leg away from each other towards the floor. Make sure nothing else moves as this motion occurs. Return back to the starting position and perform on the opposite side.

Image taken from Physitrack® www.physitrack.com.au

3. The Bird Dog

Get into an all-fours position on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders, and knees under your hips. Tighten your abdominal core muscles. Extend your opposite arm and leg out straight from your body, ensuring to keep good control in your torso. Avoid twisting in the hips and pelvis. Bring them back in, and repeat on the opposite side. This can be a difficult exercise in the beginning, and in a lot of cases I start with people just elevating one arm or leg at a time, until core strength and motor control improves.

Image taken from Physitrack® www.physitrack.com.au

 

4. The Side Bridge on Knees

Start lying on your side and push yourself up onto your elbows. Bend your knees and lift at the hips until your body is in a straight line running from head to knees. Hold this position for as long as possible, then slowly lower and repeat.

Please keep in mind, these exercises may not be suitable for everyone. It is advisable to consult your chiropractor or other health professional before starting any new exercises. How many repetitions to perform is different for everyone, but generally try starting with 2 sets of 8-10 reps.

For more information on low back pain and how core stability training may help, feel free to contact me at the clinic for more information.

References:

1. Akuthota, Venu, Andrea Ferreiro, Tamara Moore, and Michael Fredericson. 2008. Core stability exercise principles. Current sports medicine reports 7, no. 1: 39-44.
2. Hodges, P W. 2003. Core stability exercise in chronic low back pain. Orthop Clin North Am 34, no. 2: 245-254. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12914264.
3. Education, Field Coaching, and Exercise Science. 2012. On rethinking core stability exercise programs. Australasian Musculoskeletal Medicine: 9-14.
4. Wang, Xue Qiang, Jie Jiao Zheng, Zhuo Wei Yu, Xia Bi, Shu Jie Lou, Jing Liu, Bin Cai, et al. 2012. A Meta-Analysis of Core Stability Exercise versus General Exercise for Chronic
Low Back Pain. PLoS ONE 7, no. 12.
Images taken from Physitrack® www.physitrack.com.au

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