Core stability exercise has been a buzzword in the health and fitness industries for over a decade. Often marketed as the key to enhancing sports performance, as well as a way to prevent and rehabilitate injuries – particularly with low back pain.

What are core muscles?

The buzz began due to research findings from the 1990s that discovered people with back pain experienced a delay in activation or firing of certain muscles. The research concluded that these core muscles were responsible for stabilising the spine, and people with back pain would benefit from rehabilitation.

Your core muscles are consist of a group of muscles in the trunk of your body.

  • Transverse abdominis – a muscle in your abdomen (running from one hip to another like a belt)
  • Multifitus – a muscle in your back, which control the mobility of the lumbar spine.

Core stability exercise involves training these muscles in order to stabilise the spine.

How to take a functional approach to core stability

Further research over the past decade has concluded that core exercises will increase strength and stamina in these muscles.  However, this is not transferable to real life, sports, or strength in daily activities.

To become fit and conditioned for an activity or sport you need to take a functional approach and train in a way that replicates that activity or sport. In other words, exercising on a mat might be great for strengthening some muscles, but not as beneficial for improving strength in real life situations where you are on your feet, lifting, running or gardening. At some stage, you will need to incorporate rehabilitation exercises that mimic these movements.

Rehab and lower back pain

Research suggests in cases of rehabilitating lower back from injury, that core exercises may be helpful in situations when the lower back pain reduces immediately if the associated muscles are contracted.

Core stability exercises will help some people but should not be given routinely to everyone with lower pain or a particular injury. Many people with lower back pain have stiff lower spines and will need to improve movement and flexibility of these areas, rather than doing bracing or stability exercises. Bracing might add compression to the spine and aggravate an injury.

All forms of treatment and exercises for rehab or injury prevention, need to be tailored to the individual’s needs to receive the most benefit possible. Talk to your Beachside Osteo about tailoring a core stability plan for you.