The body’s core is also known as the “lumbo-pelvic-hip complex.” The core is where the body’s center of gravity is located and where all movement begins. It is divided into two categories:
- The stabilization system
- The movement system
The prevalence of low back pain in the United States expresses that only a small percentage of our population has efficient core stabilization. This is alarming, as much of debilitating low back pain and injury can be prevented through proper mobility and strengthening exercises.
Strong primal movers + weak stabilizers = dysfunction + injury
Many individuals may have strong external muscles called prime movers but weak and inhibited deep stabilizing muscles. An imbalance between the stabilizing and movement systems compromises and weakens the core causing inefficient movement patterns and ultimately, injury.
Take a systematic and progressive approach
To reiterate, if you suffer from low back pain, it is possible that the muscles responsible for movement are strong and/or overused, while the stabilizers are weak and inactive. If this is the case, it is crucial that you rethink the way you train your core. It is imperative that you revisit basic fundamental (and practical) exercises and address the problem with a systematic, progressive approach that will help you become pain free. To achieve balance in strength and flexibility between the two groups of muscles, you must first wake up the weakened, sleepy stabilizer muscles and make them stronger.
Obviously, if you are currently inactive, the first step is to get off your duff and start moving. I am not suggesting that you sign up for a gym membership and hop on a treadmill. I want you to start moving slowly and with common sense. To do this in a safe and effective manner, I want you to you to become focused on how you are exercising.
It is pertinent that you perform exercises in the correct order. You must strengthen the musculature that stabilizes the spine before you aim to strengthen muscles that move the spine. Yes, this feat will require commitment, patience, and consistency. In order to work on the stabilizers, you should first perform exercises involving minimum motion of the spine and pelvis. Body weight exercises work well for this purpose. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Mobility and dynamic warm-up
Always remember to perform a proper mobility and dynamic warm-up prior to your workout. This warm-up does not need to be painstakingly long. Usually, ten minutes or so will suffice. Address problem areas by foam rolling with a roller, the stick or a tennis ball. Dynamically stretch and activate muscles needed for your exercise by performing movement specific drills.
Think natural and practical
Do not be afraid to use this as a time to improve your natural human movement skills. This is practical training. When we train with practical intent, we give ourselves a better chance at leading a healthy, optimal life. One thing I have learned after becoming a MovNat Certified Trainer in August, is that when one improves their efficiency with natural movement, they are able to naturally strengthen the core, improve and prevent injury, and better their overall quality of life. When we focus on becoming more efficient with all elements of human movement, everything else seems to fall into place. It is a very balanced approach to fitness, and balance is good!
Get down like a bear
Now back to working the stabilizers. Here is an example of an exercise that you can add to your routine:
Progress slowly and strength will follow
If you add exercises like this into your routine, you will slowly build your mobility and strength. Your stabilizing muscles will become a lot stronger than when you started. Once these muscles are strong, you can progress to more complex exercises which involve dynamic and full range of motion of the spine. Here are some examples of correct progressions:
- Become efficient at the “get down like a bear” position before you attempt to progress into a bear crawl, which involves movement.
- Perform and master prone plank exercises before you attempt to perform weighted cable rotations or medicine ball throw exercises.
After a few weeks of adding mobility drills, stabilizing exercises, and movement skills training to your workout routine, your core will be a lot stronger, you will be able to move more efficiently, and your back will be feeling a lot better. Continue to progress in a safe and effective way and never compromise efficiency or safety. This will help reduce any further injuries and allow you to avoid negative socioeconomic, emotional, and physical disturbances in your life caused by low back pain.
Try theses exercises and give me feedback
What are you waiting for? Go get ’em. Try some of the exercises I have described and let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂
- 23 Gifts The Improve Flexibility, Mobility and Performance: Check out 23 fitness gifts that improve flexibility, mobility and performance. These useful and practical tools will be loved by you and/or the fitness buff in your life!
- Anderson GB (1999) Epidemiological features of chronic low back pain. Lancet 354: 581–5.
- Katz, Jeffrey N. Lumbar Disc Disorders and Low-Back Pain: Socioeconomic Factors and Consequences. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Volume 88, issue 2 (2006), p. 21-24. DOI: 10.2106/JBJS.E.01273 http://dx.doi.org/10.2106/JBJS.E.01273
- Strunin, Lee; Boden, Leslie. Family consequences of chronic back pain. Social Science and Medicine, Volume 58, issue 7 (April, 2004), p. 1385-1393. ISSN: 0277-9536 DOI: 10.1016/S0277-9536(03)00333-2 Elsevier Science