The latest trend in the health and fitness industry is core stabilization. Even though core stabilization exercises have been used in martial arts, tai chi, yoga and Pilates for many years, core stabilization is now being seen in a new light because of its connection with low back pain.
So what is core stabilization? Core stabilization is creating an awareness of our body’s movement through space by controlling the muscle action through strengthening an individual’s center of gravity. Our core extends from under the breast bone down to the pubic bone and focuses around the lumber spine (low back), pelvis and hip joints. So what is the purpose of core stabilization? The primary purpose of practicing core stabilization exercises is to elicit more muscular control over the outside forces acting on the body. If you think about different sporting events like boxing and karate or exercises like squats and lat pull downs or forms of mediation like yoga and tai chi, all require a person to have core strength because without inner strength they become fatigued faster, imbalanced and their overall performance would decrease.
In a recent research study at the University of North Carolina, a study was performed on six female college gymnasts to see which muscle groups would elicit a stronger core when performing certain core exercises. The study concluded that it is not one single exercise that can strengthen your core but a combination of exercises. In another study done in Denver Colorado, physiotherapists looked at EMG evidence of abdominal muscle activity during pelvic floor contraction. The study concluded with all pelvic floor activities there is abdominal muscle activity but the greatest contractions were found among the deep muscles of the abdominal cavity (transverses abdominis and internal oblique abdominis) not the superficial abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis and external oblique abdominis). Also Barbara Headley, MS PT studied people with chronic low back pain and the theory on core stabilization. Headley found that people with chronic low back pain can benefit from a core stabilization program and significantly reduce their back pain symptoms. Proving what we already know about the correlation between core stabilization and low back pain, that it is a combination of the deep abdominal muscles, the hip flexors and the deep back muscles that make our core strong not the superficial muscles of our abdomen.
So if we already know that approximately 70 to 90 percent of our population suffers from low back pain or has suffered from multiple episodes of low back pain. And we also know that most health and fitness professionals will focus on isolating structures in the low back during the treatment of low back pain then inner strength is the next step to a healthier back.
Since recent research has shown us that it does not matter if you are a conditioned athlete or someone who routinely exercises or even if you do not exercise at all, if you do not have core strength and stability then the chances of you becoming injured will increase.
So ask your local chiropractor, personal trainer, yoga instructor, Pilate’s instructor, or fitness specialist about how you can strengthen your core.