Core Strengthening: Is It For Me?
No matter your age or fitness level we can all use a stronger core. Strengthening the core muscles can help to decrease lower back pain, aid with transfers of position, maintain prolonged posturing as well as give you more power behind your sport. Your core musculature is part of your trunk, your center…your core. More technically, it is your transverse abdominus, multifidus, pelvic floor and diaphragm. Your core is used to stabilize your trunk and pelvis during dynamic activity and lifting.
There are many different exercises a physical therapist can provide you to strengthen these muscles. Starting off with basic exercises to learn how to fire those core muscles is very important. Once comfortable, you can move on to other types of exercises, such as Pilates exercises, which may be modified from basic to advanced. A basic exercise could include Abdominal Bracing, where you lie on your back with your knees bent and you tighten the core musculature by pressing your hands into the surface, bracing for 10 seconds. Another basic exercise is the Bridge where you lie on your back with your knees bent, brace (tighten those core muscles) and lift the hips holding for 3 seconds. Pilates exercises may include Double Straight Leg Stretch, which can begin as a small movement and progressed as per patient tolerance. This would initially be taught with knees into chest, heels lifted to knee height, legs move forward about 2 inches and back into chest (see picture above). The further your legs extend the harder it is, and this should only be progressed when ready. There are a multitude of exercises that can address daily functional activities as well, such as rising from a chair or carrying groceries. Therefore, no matter your age or fitness level there is an exercise for you.
If you are experiencing lower or mid back pain, if you are having difficulty with transferring or maintaining prolonged posture, or if you need more power behind your golf swing, physical therapy can help you.