Good core, good back !
by Xavier Decup.
We used to say: strengthen your core to protect your back. That is true, but what is the core, and what is the function of this group of muscles?
Most of us think the core includes only the abdominal and pelvic muscles, and more specifically the front and lateral (outer) part of those muscles. Actually the core includes every muscle from the pelvis to the shoulders, that runs in the front, lateral or back part of the body.
It means that crunch exercises are not efficient enough to strengthen the whole core unit. (Crunches are actually quite bad for the lumbar spine!) The core is made up of two different muscular units – the deep and superficial units. Both work together in a complementary way. The deep unit stabilises the spine and the pelvis, and the superficial unit enables movement.
Both units are involved in movement via different muscular chains. When you run, your deep unit will stabilise the spine and make it quite rigid, to offer the best fixed point for the muscles of the leg and pelvis (the superficial unit) which are making the movement. This stabilisation protects the spinal joints and especially the lumbar discs between the vertebrae. The superficial unit actually also helps the deep unit in providing some stabilisation during movement.
So we need to strengthen all the muscles along the spine and also the lateral abdominal muscles from the deep unit. But we should also strengthen the muscles from the superficial unit which run at the front and outer part of the body, including the pectoral and shoulders muscles, and the muscles of the mid back and legs. Pilates, yoga or any exercise including the whole body (body weight exercise) are really efficient and will provide your body and your nervous system with the best muscular functioning.
Not only will your back benefit from this, but your viscera, breathing, blood circulation and digestive functions, all of which are housed in this part of the body, will also improve.