Core strength is essential to spinal longevity. In order to create a routine that strengthens the core for back health, you need to be honest about your fitness goals: are you trying to get a ripped stomach, or create a core that is conducive to supporting the structures of the back. Many people fall victim to the false idea that the core is just a set of muscles in the middle of the body. In reality the core is an extensive network of muscle groups that can be found in almost every part of the body beside the limbs. Every movement that a human makes will generally use some core muscles, but we very rarely use the core to initiate movement. Why then, is there such an emphasis on the crunch as the primary core exercise?
Crunches are designed to strengthen the abdomen and make them greater at producing force which is a tertiary function of the core. For people concerned with the condition of their back, we want to focus on the core as a stabilizer. In this way, the core controls the force we produce, and transfers the force across the body in a balanced manner. This is how core muscles actually protect the spine and inoculate it against injury. Exercises such as side planking, planking, and deadlifting are a much better metric for stability than the number of crunches you can do.
For people concerned with pain in their lower back, or people looking to prevent any pain in their future, give our office in American Canyon a call. We can help you set a course for core strengthening that will improve the quality of your back and overall life.
Dr. Stephen Rasmussen, D.C.