THE LINK BETWEEN CORE STABILITY AND BACK PAIN

Back pain is the UK’s leading cause of disability, with over 1. 1 million people currently disabled by it. Around five million working days were lost to it in 2003 at a cost of around £150 million to the NHS. What makes this worse is that most back injuries are preventable, and yet they have still risen steadily over the past 10 years. Research shows a strong link between poorly working abdominals and lower back pain. In normal healthy people, the abdominal muscles spring into life which helps provide stability during movement. However, in people with back pain, these muscles don’t function correctly, leaving them vulnerable to injury. Remember though, having a six-pack doesn’t mean you won’t suffer from back pain. When it comes to the lower back, train for. stability instead of mobility.

It’s not just about prevention either; by performing stability exercises, those who suffer from back problems can make real improvements in their function levels and reducing their pain. If you found the string tightening during forward bending , you could be at risk of problems, particularly if your daily life involves a lot of bending over (such as doing the gardening or moving furniture).

UNDERSTANDING HOW THE ABDOMINALS WORK

‘Core stability’ has been a fitness industry buzzword for some time now, so what does it actually mean? There are many excellent texts that detail the complex anatomy and biomechanics of the core in great detail, as well as many eminent researchers on the subject. However, the integrated nature of the core, involving muscles, fascia (the sheath that encases or often joins muscles), bones, organs, ligaments and tendons, is often confusing to the fitness professional, let alone the general public! So, let’s try to highlight some of their key areas and functions, and look at why exactly core stability is so important.

As well as that six-pack muscle we know all about at the front of the torso, the core includes other muscles and organs, such as those in the lower back and sides that work together to provide strength and stability during movement. A strong and well-functioning core unit helps to provide a solid foundation for movements, such as pushing and pulling. Core stability also plays a big role in protecting the spine when we move and lift objects.

A popular way of explaining this is to think of the mid-section of the body as a cylinder that compresses its contents (in this case the spine and organs). As this happens, it increases the pressure inside the cylinder, making it stronger and more supportive of its contents. The clinical term for this is intra-abdominal pressure or IAP. This cylinder is formed by the abdominal and lumbar muscles on the sides, and at the top and bottom by the diaphragm and pelvic floor, respectively.

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