Having a weakened core has been proven to predispose yourself to back problems down the track. Strengthening up your muscles around your core is often under appreciated as they’re used in everyday activities. The benefits from core stabilisation exercises are bigger than you can imagine and have helped a lot of patients stick clear of chronic back pain in the future. Many studies have been published detailing that core stability exercises were more beneficial than general exercises in reducing pain in low back patients.
McGill designed a set of endurance exercises to promote spine stability and stated that true spine stability is achieved with a balanced stiffening of the whole musculature surrounding the core. His big four exercises were constructed to prevent the occurrence of low back problems and provide a stable support to carry out daily activities.
Muscle Strength is the key to core stability and for every activity, the core needs to be activated by tightening the muscles. Before commencing the big four exercises, McGill incorporates a warm up exercise called cat camels. This involves starting in an all fours position and whilst tightening the core, maintain the position of the pelvis and focus on arching your back to the roof/sky and then perform the opposite and hunch your back in a ‘cat like’ position to face the floor. The warm-up is the key to training your body how to activate your core throughout the big three exercises. 5-6 reps of each position should be completed prior to the exercises.
The curl-up commences with the person laying in a supine (on the back) position with both knees bent and with their hands placed under their back. They’re then instructed to lift their head from the floor without using their back musculature and perform a curl-up. The curl-up is held for 8-10 seconds and repeated for 3 sets of 6-8 reps. Progression from the curl-up includes the patient lowering both legs down to the floor and lifting their elbows so that they aren’t used to assist in the curl-up. This exercise is performed to increase the anterior musculature of the core e.g. abdominal muscles.
The side bridge is also referred to as a side plank, starts with the patient lying on their side with their knees bent on the floor with most of the force going through the elbow in contact with the floor. Once in this position the next step is to lift the knees off the floor and lift the pelvis so that the body is in a straight line from head to toe. This position is held for 10 seconds and performed 6-8x for 2 sets. Progression for the side bridge includes lifting the superior leg away from the inferior leg and once mastered, the arm that’s not in contact with the arm is lifted off the body together with the leg. This exercise strengthens up the side musculature e.g. quadratus lumborum.
The dead bug begins in the supine position and with the knees bent, the patient activates their core again and lifts their body off the floor and the opposite arm touches the opposite knee (one at a time). This exercise is performed 8-10x for 3 reps. Progression for the dead bugs, includes instructing the patient to straighten their knees and perform the same action as previously done. Again this exercise is used to strengthen the anterior musculature.
This exercise is used to strengthen the posterior musculature e.g. Erector spinae. The bird dog starts the same as the curl up in the all fours position and proceeds to straightening one arm out in front of you. You want to imagine that you have a fish bowl on your pelvis and you don’t want to spill any water out of it. By activating your core and stabilising your pelvis this is able to be achieved. Hold each rep for 10 seconds and complete 3 sets of 6-8 reps. The progression is to straighten your opposite leg and arm simultaneously. If this is easily achieved, the patient can progress even further to drawing squares with both their foot and arm at the same time.
So if you have back pain that has been bothering you for some time, or you’ve noticed the musculature around your core isn’t what you would like to be, Lakeside Chiropractic may be useful for you. Lakeside Chiropractic is central to Perth’s northern suburbs including Woodvale, yoking, Jindalee, Wembley Downs, Kingsley, Padbury and Hilary’s and is located in the centre of Joondalup on 3/45 Central Walk. We have a HICAPS terminal on site which means you can claim direct from your health fund on the day of your treatment. We are a Medibank and BUPA preferred provider but we are also able to process claims from HBF, HIF, CU Health, health.com.au, ahm, Defence and Australian Unity Health. If your fund is not listed, please feel free to ask one of our friendly staff members.
Here at Lakeside Chiropractic our staff are well trained and regularly see visitors who they are able to successfully treat. Please call us on 9300 0095 or on the website www.lakesidechiro.com.au via the Book Online Now tab.