Chronic back pain? You might have an issue with your alignment and core stability. Here’s a beginners guide to core stability training. Training your muscles is paramount to lasting back pain elimination. While chiropractic adjustments are an essential first step, balancing muscles is also key. If you have ongoing or recurring neck pain, middle back pain or chronic back pain, you likely have an issue with one or both of these often-overlooked causes. In the April 10, 2019, post, Two Little-Known Causes of Back Pain, we discussed the critical role spinal alignment and core stability play in treating back pain. In this article we explore the role of chiropractic and teach you the basics of lasting relief – Core Stability. First Health Associates has since 1981 employed both to effectively help back and neck pain sufferers.
By: Dr. Ryan Hamm, First Health Associates
HOW TO FIX YOUR ALIGNMENT
An x-ray and posture assessment will determine whether your spine is not properly aligned. If your spine is misaligned and posture faulty, it is very likely that in time you will experience chronic back pain. When any part of the spine shifts out of place and becomes misaligned, it typically won’t correct itself on its own. It requires chiropractic adjustments to correct the problem.
A chiropractor is specially trained in the best methods to correct spinal alignment. With information from the x-ray and posture assessment, your chiropractor will create a corrective care plan. The plan will most likely include spinal adjustments and corrective exercises that will restore your spinal alignment.
HOW TO CREATE CORE STABILITY
The muscles of the torso activate in a coordinated manner to support and protect the spinal column. This is known as core stability. When these muscles contract at the same time, they create pressure within the abdomen, referred to as intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). Having a stable core is essentially your built-in back brace that should be engaged whenever you bend, move, lift, etc. However, many of us do not create and maintain IAP because of pain and previous injuries.
IS YOUR INTRA-ABDOMINAL PRESSURE WEAK?
First of all, you need to assess whether you are able to create IAP. Here’s how:
- Place your hands around your waist between your hip bones and lowest ribs.
- Suspend your breath (no breathing), push out into your hands, and tighten up/flex your abdominal muscles at the same time.
- Think about tightening up your abdominals as if someone is going to punch you in the stomach. If you do it correctly, you should feel pressure build inside your abdomen (IAP) and all parts of your abdominal wall move outward and tighten up.
- If you are unsure, cough a few times. That is the feeling you are looking for. You should feel symmetrical outward movement and tightening of your entire abdominal wall, especially in your back where your thumbs are located, in the front where your fingertips are, and in the lowest part of your abdomen below your belt line just above your groin. If you find an area that is not pushing out or tightening up, it’s time to get to work.
IMPROVE YOUR ABILITY TO CREATE IAP
Fortunately, with a little work, you can improve your ability to create IAP on your own. There is a simple exercise you can do to improve your ability to create IAP. Place your hands in your weakest areas and push out and tighten up. Hold for a second, release, and repeat 10-20 times or until you are fatigued. Do this every day, multiple times. It is important that you do this exercise in a variety of positions: lying on your back, stomach, each side, and while sitting and standing. This will train your brain to create IAP during all movements.
In conclusion, the first step in recovery of neck pain, middle back pain or chronic back pain should be to consult with a qualified chiropractor. Alignment is assessed in multiple ways including x-ray, simple spinal palpation and a commonly employed procedure called motion palpation. A series of simple muscle tests can help evaluate core strength. Improper alignment and poor core stability are two predisposing factors that often lead to lower back pain. Most often patients notice a vast improvement within the first 14 to 30 days of care.
Since 1981, First Health Associates has been providing exceptional health care to residents of Arlington Heights, Mt. Prospect, Schaumburg, Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows, Palatine, Elk Grove and Des Plaines. First Health is an integrative medicine practice that offers: Medical Care; Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine; and Chiropractic Care.
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