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"Core Training – Improve Core Stability"

Core training refers to exercises that not only target the primary stabilizers of the lumbar spine but also how these muscles work to keep your trunk stable during dynamic activity.  Core training can determine how well the lumbar spine maintains its center of gravity over its base of support. 

When core stability of the lumbar spine is poor or unable to handle the physical stress and strain of everyday activity, back pain is sure to follow.  We must provide adequate core training to manage the load placed on the lumbar spine during times of use. 

Where you focus your core training matters! Some of the deeper core muscles that I like to term, "primary" core muscles, are right where core training is needed most. So no matter what the reason is for your desire for core training, be sure to prioritize right where it will be best served.

"Core Training Muscles- What are they?"

There are several core training muscles of particular note. The primary core muscles that stabilize the lumbar spine are namely; the quadratus lumborum, transverse abdominis, and multifidus muscle(s).  Other great stabilizers of the lumbar spine not to be neglected are the erectors spinae muscles, internal and external obliques, and the rectus abdominis muscle.

Each of these muscles serve a function in their own right.  And each require adequate core training for proper functioning of the thoracolumbar trunk.  In order to operate at peak performance, each of these muscles must be strong, flexible, aerobically conditioned, and healthy enough to bear the significant burden of lifting, carrying, jogging, skiing, etc.

Since we are only as strong as our weakest link, anyone of these muscles (in particular, the primary core stabilizers) can also be a detriment to our good health as they are not operating at levels required to meet expected demands.  These demands can vary in nature from individual to individual and likewise, so should the intensity of their core training.

The core training of muscles should not be performed in a "cook book" approach as we are not baking a cake! Performing your core training in this fashion can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, incorporate core training in an informative way and seek the advice of qualified individuals before starting an exercise program.

"Core Training Exercises & Back Pain?"

Healing back pain can be hastened with increased core training in proper dosages. The two should go hand in hand as part of your overall goal to heal back pain or symptoms are sure to return again and again as weak lumbar stabilizers perform below expectations.

Core Training Tip: Use the "neutral spine" to contract the transverse abdominis.

An excellent way to recruit the transverse abdominis is by working on achieving the “neutral” spine and then attempting to bring the naval back towards the spine and up under the rib cage.  Once this can be performed effectively, new positions can be tried that are more challenging for the individual.

Methods of Core Training

Since core training is the name of the game, re-conditioning primary core stabilizer muscles often include the use of a therex ball or swiss ball that is incorporated into a varied exercise program.  These core training exercises may differ quite a bit, and sort of focus on creating a “balancing” act for your lumbar spine.  The purpose of these core training exercises is to stimulate and strengthen the targeted muscles through proper recruitment of said muscle fibers.

These core training exercises can be done in supine, prone, quadraped, tall kneeling, sitting, and standing.

Consequences of Poor Core Training

Many times, people with lower back pain stemming from poor core training either have surgical intervention or continue to live with chronic pain symptoms because the real cause (spinal instability) is not identified and adequately corrected.

As we ignore proper core training for spinal stability, and institute only palliative forms of treatment, back pain is almost certain to return and become chronic in nature.

The cornerstone of any good therapeutic program is stabilization through core training.  Please visit a qualified healthcare professional for the proper diagnosis and exercise prescription of the core training program best suited for you.


Tommy Hoffman, P.T. By Tommy Hoffman, Licensed Physical Therapist


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