Getting to the Core of Reducing Back Pain
Majority of people will experience some type of back pain during their lifetime. As Kinesiologists, a large part of our practice is developing programs for clients seeking some type of relief that is non-medicated and exercise based.
Back pain shows up for a number of reasons. At Lifemoves we try to address the root cause by having our clients go through a posture and movement assessment and working together with other health professionals involved in their treatment.One difficulty I have come across in clients several times this past week is the inability to properly activate the bigger core stabilizers (there are smaller ones between each vertebrae) the pelvic floor, transverse abdominus and multifidus.
These muscles are postural, which means that they should always be turned on at some level to maintain proper posture and spine stability when lifting. They work together in what is called segmental stabilization. The postural muscles are always active while the phasic or movement based ones, such as obliques and rectus abdominus (the six pack ones), are more on/off.
The first stage of a back pain program is core activation. In this stage, we get the above muscles to fire in the proper manner and sequence without moving the spine (there are other muscles that move the spine, such as when sitting up from bed).Transverse wraps around the body, much like a corset. Multifidus is the only muscle to cross the pelvis and the sacrum (triangular bone where vertebrae are fused) and attach to the spine. Women know of contracting the pelvic floor as doing kegels or stopping from urinating, and men know by thinking of stepping into waste deep cold water and have their testicles draw up.
All need to “turn on” at the same time to keep the teeter-totter of the pelvis stable and balanced. When all are working properly, the abdomen will be flat instead of hollowed out. If you are hollowed, your spine will be flexed and no longer in neutral.In clients with back pain, multifidus on one side is often weak and the other side over-active and tight. Place your fingers in your lower spine, glide it to the side until you feel the muscle. Our role through feedback and touching is to re-awaken it. Think of it as as a cable that gently tightens up as it contracts — when done properly it feels as though it is swelling a little without moving your pelvis.Start by laying on your back with legs bent, shoulders relaxed. Try to get all three gently tightening as you exhale in a sequence — pelvic floor, multifidus and transverse — then release them in the reverse order. One tip is to place a pillow between your legs to get assist the pelvic floor to tighten.