It's common for me to hear people say that “If you have Low Back Pain, work on your core.” While this adage holds truth, most people saying so are not completely correct. Or, at least, what they believe ‘working your core’ is and the best way to do so are likely very different.

First off, however, what is our “core”? When people talk about this, usually they think of their “Abs.” But usually what they think of as ‘abs’ is really only one muscle of a group called the “abdominals” (where the word “abs” comes from). They think of the ‘six-pack’ muscle, properly known as the Rectus Abdominus. The thing is that you also have 3 other major abdominal muscles, along with other minor ones. Additionally, your "core" also refers to more than your front side. That’s right, you have core muscles in the back, too! These include muscles like the Quadratus Lumborum, which attaches from your lower ribs to the top of your pelvis in your back, forming a square on both sides—Quadratus meaning “square” and Lumborum for “Low Back”. These muscles should work together to maintain proper motion and proper posture, reducing strain on the discs in the spine. When they aren’t doing their job, it may lead to low back pain in the near or far future.

So what is this “best way” to work out your back? And what should you look out for to make sure you’re not doing it the “wrong way”? Here are a few pointers:

  • Remember to work out more than just your “abs” (a.k.a. your six pack, or Rectus Femoris)
  • Don’t forget to work on flexibility! The low back shouldn’t only be stable but mobile as well.
  • Avoid any exercises which use repeated flexion of your back, like sit-ups. This can actually lead to an increased risk of low back issues
  • Avoid difficult exercises at high loads until you can establish a consistently good form (i.e. Deadlift, Squat)

And in general, I recommend the following:

  • Learn how to properly bend at your knees AND hips, not your low back-be sure to keep it in a neutral position.
  • Avoid movements that involve both twisting AND bending at the same time

Properly following these guidelines will promote a strong, stable core that can resist injury and decrease stresses to reduce pain. If you currently have low back pain or feel as though there are things you could do to improve, but you don’t know where to start, come into you Premier Gilbert Spine experts at Better Chiropractic. We’ll get you out of pain and teach you habits that will improve how you use your low back to prevent future issues. Call us today at 480.802.0692 to make an appointment!