The “core” is made of up of a variety of abdominal and pelvic floor muscles that protect and support the spine during various movement patterns. Core strengthening is a vital part of many treatment programs, ranging from diagnoses including the low back and neck pain to hip pain and balance.
There are different levels of core strengthening and each level is based on your symptoms and tolerance. Progression of exercises is also dependent on multiple factors, which physical therapists at Specialized Physical Therapy are trained and skilled in analyzing. The 4 muscles which comprise the ‘core’ are the rectus abdominis, internal obliques, external obliques, and most important of them all, the transversus abdominis.
Most people feel the ‘6-pack’ muscle is the core, when in fact the true core can not be felt or see. The transversus abdominis muscle lies deep within the pelvic/abdominal region, and is usually the muscle which is weakened the most. Because this muscle wraps around the pelvic like a belt and extends from the ribs to the groin, it is the most important of all the ‘core’ muscles to strengthen.
When the core is stronger, you are better able to move the arms and legs and perform more dynamic activities (such as jogging) without compromising the trunk muscles and spine. Engaging the core can also assist with maintaining balance over flat or uneven surfaces. Simple techniques like contracting this muscle during lifting, pushing, or pulling activities can limit the chance of injury to the low back and hip region.
Core stabilization exercises may vary between patients, depending on the diagnosis. For example, patients with low back pain due to spinal stenosis may be given different exercises and directions than those with a disc herniation. This is because these two patient populations have different movements that could worsen their condition. Therefore it is vital for patients, especially with low back pain, to seek professional help from a physical therapist to strengthen core muscles and reduce pain.
The 1st thing physical therapists perform is an initial evaluation to determine which exercises would be the most effective to improve your condition. To learn more about how Specialized Physical Therapy can help, contact us here to set up a consultation or make an appointment.