How Do You Activate Your Core?
Without activating your core muscles, it’s likely you might use your back or another part of your body, to assist in performing the exercise. This is not the best way to perform exercises, but if you activate your core you’ll be able to strengthen the core and perform the exercises with correct form and target them specifically. Your abdominal muscles have various compartments, the core muscle you need to be engaging to benefit your back health is the transverse-abdominus muscle – the one behind the six-pack muscle (the rectus-abdominus). The best exercise we teach patients to perform is called a Vacuum. To perform it, sit or lie in a comfortable position and take a deep breath in. As you do this, notice your belly should inflate like a balloon. Now as you take a deep breath out, draw the belly in towards the spine. Hold it there for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat the exercise until you can safely and almost unconsciously activate the muscle. You should be able to breathe at the same time and even hold a conversation. Learning this skill so you can perform it on cue can give you a great baseline for performing and progressing with other exercises.
What Exercises Do We Recommend To Strengthen The Core?
To help with progressing the strength of your core, we often prescribe our patients exercises known as Bird Dog or Dead Bugs. To perform a bird dog, you’ll need to be kneeling on all fours with your weight balanced in the middle, hands should be underneath the shoulders and legs hip-width apart. Activate your core and simultaneously lift your right arm and left leg keeping your core and entire middle section stable. To do the exercise correctly, you’ll need to keep your hips parallel to the floor with no rotation occurring in the hips as you lift. Hold for a couple of seconds, and gently lower back to the starting position and repeat with the opposite side. The exercise helps to further strengthen your core and helps to stabilise your lower back as well.
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What Exercises Should Be Avoided If You Have Back Pain?
If you research exercises to strengthen your core, you may find ones that are commonly associated with the core – such as leg raises and sit ups. These are called flexion based exercises as they involve forward bending of the spine, and can actually cause an increased amount of pressure on the spine. When you bend forwards, the pressure on the discs increases exponentially, which can be a trigger for a new episode of back pain if you’ve previously been prone to recurring back injuries. This is why we would recommend to avoid certain poses in yoga as they can be unhelpful. Often forward bending movements are encouraged in yoga classes to enhance flexibility – during that motion it can be relieving at the deepest part of the fold as it will open out the hole the nerve travels through, despite it putting extra pressure on your lower back as you bend over. As the hole opens out, you may experience some relief from symptoms as the pressure on the nerve is released, but as soon as you revert back to your original position this closes back up, symptoms return, and you may make the problem worse in the long run as you’re putting extra pressure on the lower back by performing that movement.
Now you know how you can strengthen your back and core muscles by using these very simple exercises, and by knowing which exercises to avoid you’ll be able to work on those weaker areas in the best and safest way possible. If you start to incorporate these exercises, you should start to experience relief, but if your problem is particularly acute or it’s been a longstanding issue you may need to visit your local osteopath or chiropractor to figure out exactly what the problem is and have some treatment to help relieve the pain. If you’d like to find out more about our approach to treating back pain and the advanced treatment technologies we offer, visit our website at themayfairclinic.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To book an appointment with us, call 0203 947 3222. Remember to share this article if you know someone suffering with back pain.
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