The best sup­port act

Siob­han Byrne ex­plains why the core has a star­ring role to play in bet­ter back health

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - FITNESS -

LAST week we be­gan look­ing at back health, and fo­cused on the need to first iden­tify what is wrong in or­der to stop do­ing the things that ag­gra­vate the prob­lem. This week, I’m go­ing to look at the im­por­tance of core strength in sup­port­ing the back.

Some­times peo­ple be­lieve the core re­lates only to the ab­dom­i­nal area, but it is so much more than that: it in­cludes in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal obliques, the trans­verse ab­do­mi­nis, the erec­tor spinae in your back, di­aphragm and more.

Good core strength needs to be de­vel­oped over time, to sup­port the in­ner mus­cles. I use the anal­ogy of the foun­da­tions of a house be­ing the core of the home. If they are weak, the en­tire struc­ture will never be strong so, although you may have built mus­cle in the back, chest and abs, the core may still need devel­op­ment.

If our mus­cles are weak, our body will end up re­ly­ing on lig­a­ments, discs and soft tis­sues, putting strain on them. It’s not too late to start im­prov­ing core strength.

But how do you know you are do­ing a core ex­er­cise cor­rectly? Well, take for ex­am­ple the stan­dard plank or bridge ex­er­cise, with hands or el­bows on the ground, your body straight and on your toes, face down. Make sure your bot­tom is flat and that the lower back is not dip­ping. Try hold­ing in your stom­ach at the same time. In core ex­er­cises you should feel a light pull in the abs from the lower ab­dom­i­nal area right up to the di­aphragm. If you feel a pinch in the lower back straight away you are most likely dip­ping the lower back.

You may also ex­pe­ri­ence a pinch in the lower back if, af­ter per­form­ing this ex­er­cise for a pe­riod of time, your core mus­cles get tired and then start to use the weak­ened lower back area. Stop and take a break and then try again for a shorter pe­riod of time un­til your strength de­vel­ops over time. Be­low are some core ex­er­cises to get you started.

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