Low-back pain affects a significant portion of the US population, with reports suggesting an 80% prevalence. However, there is evidence to suggest that a well-conditioned core can help reduce the incidence of low-back pain. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of core activation and proper exercises, such as personal training, in recovering from and preventing unwanted low-back pain.
The Significance of Core Musculature in Spinal Stabilization
In individuals free from low-back pain, the core musculature functions reflexively to stabilize the spine, both in anticipation of and during voluntary or involuntary loading. The transverse abdominis, in particular, plays a key role as it works reflexively with the neural system to create a hoop tension effect, similar to cinching a belt around the waist.
Neural Control Deficits and Delayed Core Activation
Individuals experiencing low-back pain often exhibit delayed or minimal activation of the transverse abdominis muscles, indicating neural control deficits.
Similarly, deconditioned individuals who spend prolonged periods sitting may also demonstrate these neural control deficits. Delayed activation of the transverse abdominis can result in inadequate stabilization of the lumbar spine during upper extremity movements.
Re-educating Core Functioning with Supine Drawing-In
A technique called Supine Drawing-In can help re-educate and restore full functioning of the core muscles. To perform this exercise, lie on your back with bent knees, align the knees and second toe with the anterior superior iliac spine, and maintain this position throughout. Engage the pelvic floor muscles (Kegels) and the transverse abdominis (drawing the belly button toward the spine) either individually or in combination. Practice these contractions while maintaining normal breathing.
Image from healthine.com – How to Engage the Transversus Abdominis, and Why It’s Important
The Impact of Smoking on Low-Back Health
Surprisingly, smoking has been found to have a negative effect on low-back health. It reduces blood flow to the lower spine and has been associated with spinal disc degeneration. If you are experiencing low-back pain, quitting smoking may contribute to your overall recovery and well-being.
The Benefits of Personal Training
Muscular endurance, rather than muscular strength, has shown the strongest positive association with low-back health. Engaging in personalized training programs can be highly beneficial in targeting core strength and endurance specific to your needs. If you are unsure about what exercises to perform or how to progress, seeking the guidance of a personal trainer can provide invaluable assistance in achieving your goals.
A strong and well-conditioned core plays a crucial role in reducing the incidence of low-back pain. By focusing on core activation exercises, such as the Supine Drawing-In technique, and incorporating personalized training, individuals can re-educate and strengthen their core muscles to support spinal stabilization. Additionally, adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes quitting smoking can further contribute to improved low-back health.
Remember, seeking the guidance of a personal trainer can provide the expertise and support needed to ensure proper form, progression, and ultimately, a healthier and pain-free back.