Continuing my discussion on core strengthening, I wanted to focus on the benefits of such exercises as well as some examples.
Strengthening the core can help improve:
- Back pain
- Knee pain
For best results, strengthening is to be an accessory to NUCCA, sufficient rest, stress-relieving activities and proper nutrition and hydration.
I have seen far too many people injure themselves after beginning a new exercise plan. This may occur at the beginning of the new year, or upon deciding to lose weight for a special occasion or just because one is tired of being tired. If we do not have the proper movement patterns in place, starting even a “beginners” workout can cause injury.
Why would we not have proper movement patterns?
Children intuitively move properly (especially if they have been under chiropractic care from birth). Prolonged sitting and leaning over a desk tighten the anterior (front) muscles and weaken the posterior (back) muscles. The neck muscles tighten and shorten in the front and tighten and lengthen in the back as the head moves further forward into the frontal plane. With the abnormal (but commonplace) musculature in place, the patterns of movement will change to compensate for the weakness.
Thus, beginning a new workout, with the invalid assumption that the desired movements are intuitive, leads to injury.
Before beginning a new workout the core needs to be strengthened, proper movement patterns need to be re-established as normal and preferably as automatic. Once this occurs, any workout one wants to engage in can be done without injury as long as one has enough strength, the spine is aligned and one is being careful.
For most people, the core muscles which need to be addressed first are the posterior chain muscles. These aren’t any more important than others, but our lifestyle has caused them to be weak and therefore they are the key to re-establishing good biomechanics. Women who have borne children have different primary rehabilitation needs.
The posterior chain muscles are:
- Erector Spinae
- Quadratus Lumborum
- Iliopsoas (iliacus and psoas)
Using the muscles in combination is much more effective than isolating them. They need to know how to function together because our daily activities require us to utilize them as a team.
It is also important for proprioception as well as function to have bare feet during this process.
Yoga, Pilates and Foundation training are three effective ways to strengthen the core and the posterior chain. Find the one you enjoy, put in the time and effort, then enjoy the benefits. After doing this for awhile, add any other activity that you desire and you’ll find that you stay strong and injury-free!