Core strength helps prevent backpain – why?

If you suffer from back pain, you have probably heard that strengthening your core muscles can bring you some relief.

Studies show that exercises to strengthen your core are one of the most effective treatments for back pain. A strong core is your best defence against developing back pain, unfortunately the reverse is also true!

What are core muscles?

When most people think about the core of the body they think of the abdominal area – we all want a six pack right?

Whilst the abdominal muscles are an important part of the core, there are other muscles that are equally important. So, let us take a look at them:

  • Abdominals

The rectus abdominus muscle is the one most people associate with a six pack. It helps stabilize the internal organs.

The transversus abdominis muscle, also known as the corset muscle because of its horizontal positioning, is another important stomach muscle and participates in movement and spine stabilization.

  • Back

The quadratus lumborum is a deep muscle located in the lower back on either side of the spine. It extends from the lowest rib to the top of the pelvis. When one side is used it is a major player in side-bending.

When both are used it helps with bending backwards but also is the major stabilizer of the low back and pelvis, making it vitally important when lifting and holding heavy objects.

It is commonly associated with back pain, posture, and mobility issues.

  • Obliques

Located along the sides of the body, the internal and external obliques play a role in flexing (forward bending) and rotating the spine. They also assist the diaphragm in forced breathing out.

  • Spine

The erector spinae and multifidus muscles are technically back muscles, but as well as initiating movement, they also have a significant role in stabilizing the spine.

  • Glutes

These consist of three muscles in your backside. They are gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.

Gluteus maximus is the largest and most powerful of these muscles. It provides the main force in hip extension, with the two other muscles being involved more in control and stability of the movement.

  • Pelvic floor

The pelvic floor houses organs such as the urethra, bladder, intestines etc. It also includes connective tissues such as hamstrings, hip flexors and abductors.

Together the pelvic floor muscles and tissues help with hip stabilization, urination, bowel movements and more.

  • Diaphragm

The diaphragm is a muscle typically associated with breathing, as it contracts and flattens during inhalation and exhalation.

It is located at the base of the chest; the diaphragm has openings that are also involved in digestive function and blood transportation to the heart.

Signs that your core muscles are weak

  • Poor posture, because your spine is unable to bear the load of your torso and keep your back upright.
  • Balance issues, which may indicate a lack of core stability
  • Breathing difficulties, as there is not enough core strength to keep the upper body in a favourable position, which may in turn compress and put pressure on the lungs.
  • Discomfort or pain in the back or neck which may be triggered by straining the back muscles, as well as nerve compression, where the nerve roots are squeezed by other structures in the back

Relationship between core muscles and back pain

Weak core muscles

When these muscles are not used for a prolonged period, they can become weak and as a result they can no longer provide adequate support for the spine.

Two things can happen following the weakening of these important muscles:

  1. Muscles can become strained as they attempt to support the upper body because they lack the required strength.
  2. The lack of support that comes because of weak core muscles may cause the spine to be compressed as it attempts to bear the load of the upper body to compensate, in turn this can lead to nerve compression, increased pressure on the spinal joints, disc herniation (slipped disc) and many other spinal issues.

Strong core muscles

Will maintain your balance, help you avoid awkward movement and prevent unwanted strains or sprains. They also allow your body to transfer force and stress through your muscles rather than your spine, which significantly reduces the risk of back pain.

The muscles in your back keep the spine properly aligned and stabilized. Abdominal muscles maintain proper spine curvature and a neutral pelvic tilt, which is important for preventing back pain.

When you contract your abdominal muscles, pressure inside your abdominal cavity increases. This motion lifts weight and pressure off the spine.

As a collective group, the core muscles work in perfect harmony to prevent back injuries and disc problems that can cause substantial pain and immobility.

If you would like some further information or to speak to a member of our team please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us at: or .