The best exercises for core strength
As promised last week, I will discuss exactly which exercises are best to strengthen and help prevent occurrences of lower back pain. It should first be noted that all exercise whether it be walking or far more aggressive power lifting put stress on the joints and muscles of the lower back. Injury occurs when more stress is put on those structures than they can withstand. The key to strong back and core is putting the right kinds of stress in the right amounts to stimulate muscular growth while minimizing chance of injury.
Back to our Canadian friend Stuart McGill, PhD. Dr. McGill studied several exercises for the lower back. He measured two things; the amount of muscle activation and the amount of sheer stress and compressive force these exercises imparted on the lower back. The best exercises were chosen based on higher levels of muscle activation while putting lower amounts of sheer and compressive force on the spine. The result was an exercise program that would strengthen the correct muscles while decreasing the chance of injury during the exercise.
The three exercises are as follows. The abdominal crunch, isometric Side Bridge and Bird Dog exercises. Visual instruction of these exercises can be found through your favorite search engine. Seems pretty simple, right? Certainly there are exercises that are more advanced and require more muscle activation but because of the complex nature and controlled movement required they often become injurious to the amateur rather than therapeutic. As with any exercise program, there are contraindications involved. It is recommended that you consult your health care professional before starting these or any exercise.
Bryan M. Steele, DC