Core strength is critical for lower back health. Finding the right core strengthening exercises for lower back pain can be difficult at best, and can lead you to exacerbate the problem at worst.
Core Weakness & Lower Back Pain
You've probably heard it from your trainer, your PT, your gym friend, and probably even your mother - core strengthening is mandatory if you want to prevent lower back pain. It is truly non negotiable. If you continuously fall into lower back pain, spasms, etc. (barring a serious traumatic injury) you likely have weakness in the core.
Why does core weakness cause lower back pain? Core weakness as an isolated phenomenon does not cause lower back pain. However, core weakness can lead to lower back pain due to its lack of protection to the spine. When the core muscles are weak and flimsy, the lower back is not safe. The core muscles essentially hold the spine in place, especially while lifting objects, playing sports, sitting down, and doing anything active. If it weren't for the core, your lower spine would fold in half and break.
Core weakness leads to lower back pain when the core muscles lack the strength, endurance, or resilience to perform a bodily function, and muscles are forced to spasm or lock up to prevent spinal injury. Muscle spasms are a last resort reaction when the muscles can't handle the load that is applied on them, and when serious structural damage is a risk. Muscle spasms are great short term because they can prevent vertebrae injuries - but they hurt like hell. Spasms are extremely limiting, painful, and can last for months. This is also why back pain and weakness are usually associated with tightness.
Core Strengthening For Lower Back Pain
Core strengthening is a phenomenal preventative measure for lower back pain. Building a core with high strength and endurance will allow the lower back to stay strong and safe for whatever life throws at you. Core strengthening exercises should be in every workout regimen, especially if you have a history of lower back pain.
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Core Strengthening Exercises For Lower Back Pain
When cultivating a comprehensive core strengthening regimen for lower back pain, it is absolutely crucial that you follow the right principles and hit the correct muscles. If principles are avoided or muscles are missed, it can completely constrict any hope of a bulletproof, pain-free lower back.
The Principles: There are many principles to check when performing core strengthening exercises for lower back pain - but here are a few to get you started:
- Do not twist the spine: If the core is weak, the spine is vulnerable. You have not earned the privilege to twist the spine if your core is weak.
- Do not ignore endurance: Core muscle strength is only part of the picture. We want to build a core that can withstand stress and avoid fatigue for long periods of time. The least amount of injuries happen in the first quarter - this should never be overlooked.
- Hit ALL of the muscles: weakness in small areas of the body can hold you back from building serious core strength and preventing lower back pain.
The Muscles: Make sure you are hitting every muscle during your core strengthening exercises. These include (but are not limited to) Quadratus Lumborum (QL), Obliques, Abdominals, Gluteus Medius, Spinal Erectors, and Lats.
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