However, unlike muscles in the arms and legs, core muscles do not get much use during typical daily activities. To build strength in core abdominal and back muscles requires exercises that focus specifically in these muscle groups.
Back-strengthening exercises can result in:
Physical therapy programs
Two of the most commonly used back strengthening programs are the McKenzie Method and dynamic stabilisation, both of which are typically learned by working with a physical therapist. The kind of program prescribed typically depends on the patient’s condition and needs, as well as the doctor’s preference and familiarity with an exercise program.
When appropriate, exercises from both the McKenzie Method and dynamic stabilisation may be combined.
Strengthening through the McKenzie Method
McKenzie Method exercises are designed to alleviate back pain caused by conditions affecting a spinal disc, such as degenerative disc disease or a herniated disc. These exercises are usually less effective for pain caused by osteoarthritis in the facet joints and/or spinal stenosis.
One of the primary goals of the McKenzie Method is “centralising” pain, through:
Dynamic Stabilisation Exercises
The goal of dynamic stabilisation exercises is to find and maintain the neutral spine—a natural posture that accommodates the spine’s curvature and minimises stress. Maintaining the neutral spine in a healthy posture is achieved through muscle conditioning and a learned awareness of joint positions (called proprioception).
Dynamic stabilisation includes a range of exercises that can accommodate nearly anyone. For more severe pain, it is usually recommended to start with an exercise such as leg raises that gently and gradually strengthen the low back and core muscles. More rigorous exercises may include pelvic tilts or exercises using an exercise ball.
Common Forms of Strengthening Exercise
Many options are available that can effectively strengthen the spine and provide relief and finding one that works and can be maintained is often driven by personal preference, local instructors available and a process of trial and error in finding pain relief.
Common forms of strengthening exercise can include:
These strengthening exercises and others may be learned with help from a physical therapist, chiropractor, physiatrist, athletic trainers and more. It is important to work with a well-qualified professional, as learning the correct form for exercise is essential for building strength and stability without pain or injury.
Consulting with a Chiropractor or other qualified health professional is recommended before adding to an exercise routine, to ensure any new exercise won’t compromise healthy or healing spinal structures.