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Deception of A Strong Core For A Strong Back And Fixing Back Pain

You’ve heard it before many times:

“You just need a stronger core, and your back pain will be fixed”.

Without depth of thought, this makes perfect sense.  Your core muscles do stabilise and control your back after all; or do they?

Read the Summary (at least the bolded words :) below of a scientific article published in a reputable physiotherapy journal.  I’ll explain it in plain english after.

Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization and Sports Rehabilitation. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Feb; 8(1): 62–73.

Abstract:
Dynamic neuromuscular (core) stability is necessary for optimal athletic performance and is not achieved purely by adequate strength of abdominals, spinal extensors, gluteals or any other musculature; rather, core stabilization is accomplished through precise coordination of these muscles and intra‐abdominal pressure regulation by the central nervous system. Understanding developmental kinesiology provides a framework to appreciate the regional interdependence and the inter‐linking of the skeleton, joints, musculature during movement and the importance of training both the dynamic and stabilizing function of muscles in the kinetic chain. The Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) approach provides functional tools to assess and activate the intrinsic spinal stabilizers in order to optimize the movement system for both pre‐habilitation and rehabilitation of athletic injuries and performance.

Did you get that?!

A Strong Core Does Not Equal A Strong Back!
The answer to a ‘strong’ back is
Proper Coordination of your core muscles,

And what controls your muscles? Your Central Nervous System

Consider this scenario:

You’re in the gym, just completed 5 sets of 5 heavy deadlifts.  Now you’re putting the plates back, then the bar, then finally you bend down to pick up the clips and ‘PANG!’ your back goes out!

I’m telling you, it happens all the time, we see people, and I mean even strong athletic young people, hurting their back from bending over to pick up a pen off the floor, putting their socks on, or even just getting out of bed, the list goes on.

How is this even possible?  Again:  A Strong Core Does Not Equal A Strong Back.

“Okay, Okay, I get it now.  Proper coordination of my core muscles equals a stable strong back.  So how do I train that?”

Yes, you can get improvement by training movement patterns as suggested in the above article.  However, even the authors of the above article miss a very important key that is well known in the literature (published research articles).

Activation of your core muscles should be a Feed-Forward mechanism. In other words,

Proper core muscle activation occurs,
not in response to movement or load,
but rather
in anticipation to movement.

This means that before you even go to move your arms or legs, your brain subconsciously anticipates this movement and turns on your core muscles to stabilise your back.  What good is it to have strong back muscles if they don’t turn on when you need them most?

“So are you saying that I’m doomed, because it’s out of my conscious control?!”  No, I am not.

Research has shown that

Chiropractic adjustments
to vertebral subluxations (misaligned restricted joints in your spine)
Makes your back more stable by
Increasing both the
proper timing and strength of your core muscles.

Here are the conclusions of just a few of these articles:

• 40% improvement in speed of core muscle feed-forward activation after just one chiropractic adjustment!
  The Effect of Sacroiliac Joint Manipulation on Feed-Forward Activation Times of the Deep Abdominal Musculature.  JMPT, Volume 29, Issue 3, March–April 2006, Pages 196-202.,/i>

• Not only is core muscle coordination improved, after just one adjustment, the muscles are also able to work harder!
  Association between changes in abdominal and lumbar multifidus muscle thickness and clinical improvement after spinal manipulation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011 Jun;41(6):389-99. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2011.3632. Epub 2011 Apr 6.

(That makes sense, because if the source of electrical power to that muscle is turned on as a result of the adjustment, then the muscle can work harder.)

• Chiropractic Adjustments improve pelvic floor muscle activity (an often overlooked part of your core muscles)
  Effects of high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulation on strength and the basal tonus of female pelvic floor muscles.  J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2010 Feb;33(2):109-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2009.12.007.

“So is there any use of having strong core muscles?”  Yes!  It gives your nervous system better tools to work with.

How long will chiropractic take to fix my back and core muscle coordination?  Let me ask you this question: how long has your problem been in the making?  Prolonged faulty movement patterns reinforce a compensation pattern, resulting in compensated posture, movement, and putting you at continual risk of injury and re-injury.

Plan of Action To Fix Your Back Pain:

  1. Get a comprehensive assessment of your back by one of our switched-on chiropractors
  2. Follow through with recommendations given for your best interest.
  3. Be Patient!  Just because your back pain may be gone shortly after starting care, your back is still not out of it’s bad compensation coordination habits.
  4. In addition to keeping your core and back muscles fit, consider preventive regular spinal checkups to ensure your firing on all cylinders.