Why do we need CORE Strength? You hear a lot about “training the CORE”. But what does that really mean and how do you get started?
When defining the CORE, it depends on who you ask. I have been studying the concept of the “CORE” as it relates to low back pain since 1996 when I attended the Australian Physiotherapy Conference. At that time new research was presented on function, assessment, and training of the deepest layer of trunk muscles. Because we couldn’t see or touch these muscles prior to that time, we didn’t really understand the role of Transversus Abdominus and Multifidus. Over time, less emphasis has been placed on these muscles but they are still play a role to support the spine. And the research still shows that people with back pain have an impairment of these muscles. My anatomy video gives you a better look at the layers of muscular support around the low back.
My idea of training the CORE is that it is must be done as a progression. You cannot start with the most difficult exercise, especially when you have back pain. You may hear about exercises that are the “best” for training the core. But many times those exercise activate multiple muscles of the CORE or ask one muscle of the CORE to fully engage. And for some people, this can create pain! So it may be better for you to start with low level CORE exercises and become very aware of these muscles during breathing, pelvic tilts, and low loads. With time, better endurance, and less pain you can progress the exercises to add more challenge.
It may also be OK to drop the expectation of doing a few of the “best” exercises. Be content with the level of challenge that is right for you. You want the level of challenge that provides EFFORT but not strain or pain. Yoga supports this philosophy of exercise. The right amount of effort at the right time that meets your needs. Bring your awareness to what you need in this moment to continue on a journey of healing.