Often, people spend hours doing “core training” in the gym such as sit-ups, planks and the like only to find that they still experience symptoms of instability such as low back pain during training or, they get injured regularly doing exercise. The problem? This kind of “core training” addresses the strength of your abdominal and oblique muscles which are responsible for providing movement but does not train the deeper, stabilising muscles that are responsible for maintaining good alignment of the spine.
Here is a little exercise to introduce the feeling and the essence of stability in you torso. The true “core”:
1. Lie on your back, knees up, feet flat on the ground.
2. Breath, and feel how your ribs move and the shape of your spine changes.
3. Place your index fingers on the bones at the top of your pelvis at the front.
4. Feel what happens when you lift one foot from the floor REALLY SLOWLY!!! No jumping it up!!!
5. Try again and try to not allow any movement in your pelvis or lumbar spine.
Did you hold your breath? Did your pelvis roll toward the side you lifted? Did your back arch away from the floor? Did you get a “ping” of back pain?
If YES was an answer to any of these questions you have room for improvement in you core stabilisation.
Practicing this exercise is actually a great way to begin the reactivation of your deeper, stabilising muscles. Breathing as you move and load the spine is essential to prevent rigidity. Our bodies are designed to be fluid and coordinated when moving and breath holding can stifle this and cause us to become to stiff when moving! If you don’t breath while you do anything you won’t do it for very long!!
For detailed explanation of core stability refer to our previous blog “What is core stability?”. You can find it here: https://northernbeachesphysio.com/2014/03/28/what-is-core-stability/.
Also, watch this video of one of physiotherapists, Angus, walking through the above exercise and explaining how to activate your core!