Core Strengthening to Reduce Back Pain

Your torso holds you up. It is like your tap root. Let’s face it, most of us sit for a majority of the day at work and in a car, then at the table eating, then on a couch winding down. Well if our torso is supporting us that whole time, housing our organs which are diligently working to process and digest, wouldn’t you rather have a strong structure to let those organs do their work so they are not squished and suffocated by poor posture or weak muscles? Hello core, we are going to get familiar with each other because my pain is about to be a thing of the past.

Start by holding a side plank for a couple of breaths on each arm. To protect your shoulder joint, make sure your hand is planted right under your shoulder. Lift your hips toward the sky as if they are being pulled by a rope. This engages your core muscles. We are going to focus on the muscles that go all the way around your core. We do exist in 3-D after all.

You can also hold a plank on your palms or forearms for a couple of breaths. Try doing this a couple of times each day as you build your core muscles. Planks are a great and simple exercise you can do almost anywhere.

Leg lifts or bicycling with alternating elbows are also great core exercises that you can do lying on your back. Why not make it fun and blast your favorite music. Don’t stop until the song ends. Of course if you have a serious injury, consult with your doctor about which core exercises are safe for you. Boat pose is another great way to strengthen your core. Keep your back straight in a seated position and holding onto the backs of your knees, lean back, keeping your chest up. You will feel your core engaged.

It is important to protect our spine and our nervous system by building the muscles up around them. This will help the vertebrae stay in place and reduce slippage. Think about stacking up checkers with thin rubber bands, they are less likely to slip out of place with strong thick rubber bands holding them in place. It’s the same with our spine. Find the sit-ups and crunches that you like and switch it up so you don’t get bored. Remember if you keep it fun you’ll be more motivated to do it. Find a friend who wants to work on their core and invite them over. Core does not have to be a bore.

It is important to also focus just as much time stretching as you do strengthening though. If you get too much muscle bulk without lengthening you can actually pull yourself out of alignment. Think about spending equal amounts of time stretching and strengthening for a strong and mobile core.

Shannon Yrizarry

Shannon Yrizarry is a health and wellness professional who was healed from chronic back pain in 2003 after studying the mind-body connection. She went on to study the physical and mental benefits of yoga and now teaches classes and workshops in Southern California. She has also worked as an organic health consultant and writes about how to eat a clean whole foods diet incorporating gluten-free, raw, and dairy free options.