If I asked you what is the number one exercise to perform for your lower back, what would you say? Quick I will give you 5 more seconds……Ok let me guess. You immediately thought of a “Core exercise” probably a crunch or sit up.
Am I right? Of course I’m right. Well did you know that core strength having any effect on lower back pain has been disproved? Not only has it been disproved but it was disproved in 1957! So why do so many of us (not just you and me and your neighbor, but doctors, other physical therapist, chiropractors) believe that this should be our first course of action? I know the answer it will shock you. Have you ever seen all the fun gadgets on QVC claiming to give you six pack abs or fix your low back pain (ab roller comes to mind)?
Of course you have and the answer to why we all believe sit ups fix back pain is because the media has brainwashed us.
Before reviewing the studies (which I hope you do), it is first interesting to note that most of life requires only minimal activation of the core musculature. During walking, the rectus abdominis has an average activity of two percent of maximal voluntary contraction, and the external oblique operates at five percent. During standing, trunk flexors and extensors are estimated to fire at less than one percent. Add more than fifty pounds to the torso and they fire at three percent. During bending and lifting muscular activation is similarly low. Given that daily life seems to require so little core strength, perhaps it is not surprising that research interventions to increase core strength have little effect on pain.
Let me tell you a quick story. I was a back pain suffer for about a year when I was finishing up my undergraduate studies. I had a massive disc herniation at the L4/L5 level. Many of you have heard this story but for those of you that haven’t I will give you the condensed version but you can get the whole version by either downloading my free ebook called “The Truth About Low Back Pain- The Hidden Culprits” by clicking here.
Or you can come to our next Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop by Clicking Here. Ok so I have this massive disc herniation that is causing 10/10 pain that shoots down my entire right leg constantly. Medications (Vicodin, ibuprofen, aspirin), injections, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture don’t even touch the pain. Traditional physical therapy made the pain significantly worse. And then finally I had surgery which for two weeks helped relieve the pain but then it all came back again worse than ever. The most discouraging element of the story was that physical therapy failed and I was about to pay $160,000 to go to physical therapy school for the next three years. Well looking back on what the physical therapist focused on it was all wrong. I was doing “core strengthening” exercises everyday with no improvements. The reason that I was not improving was because my core strength was not the problem. Not even close to the problem. The problem wasn’t discovered until I started graduate school and became the class Guinea pig. The immediate discovery was that my right hip has zero degrees of rotation. The hip is a huge contributor to rotation as we move throughout our day. The lower back is only designed to rotate 5 degrees. So when my hip stopped rotating it caused my lower back to rotate way too much and it ended up damaging the discs. So I can’t stress how core strength has absolutely nothing to do with your back pain and if you have a health care provider telling you that you need to find another one to work with because they must not have read any research since 1957! If you don't believe me take at these research articles posted in medical journals. Click Here. What More? Click Here. Not Convinced Yet Click Here. You really should start to trust me:)
The point I’m trying to make is that if you have back pain you must look at the entire body. You must look at the areas above and below the spine. Stop listening to infomercials and get help from experts who know what they are talking about. I would highly encourage you to come to our low back pain and sciatica workshop where we will tell you actual research based ways to improve your lower back pain. You can register by clicking here now.