Strengthening abdominal muscles to relieve pain from a spine condition

The spine helps support the head and torso while protecting the central spinal cord as it travels from the brain to the rest of the body. Many cases of neck and back pain are caused by age-related spine conditions that displace spinal anatomy and put pressure on surrounding nerves. While no one can stop this underlying process, there are steps anyone can take to relieve the stress being placed on the spine every day. One important measure is increasing the strength of the abdominal muscles.

The Core muscles

The muscles of the back and the muscles of the abdomen are often collectively referred to as the core muscles. Like all parts of our body, as we age these muscles tend to weaken. The weaker they become, the more stress your vertebrae, spinal discs and facet joints are forced to endure. This increases the risk of back pain due to degenerative conditions like a bone spur, slipped disc, disc protrusion or spinal arthritis.

Strengthening the core muscles can reduce the risk of the above conditions; and for patients who have been diagnosed with one of them it can potentially offer relief. An exercise plan to strengthen the core will focus on the following groups:

  • Oblique muscles. These muscles are located on either side of your abdomen, below your rib cage and above your hip bones. They help support the spine when you stand upright.
  • Abdominal muscles. When you bend forwards and backwards, these muscles in front of the spine provide strength and flexibility to the lumbar, or lower, region of the spine.
  • Gluteal muscles. These muscles of the buttocks help with straightening and extending the back, while also allowing for hip movements.

Types of abdominal exercises

In addition to more well-known core exercises like crunches and planks, there are many other movements that can improve the strength of core muscles, including:

  • Pelvic tilts. Lie on your back with your legs bent. On an exhale, slowly press your hips upwards, tightening your abdominal muscles. Hold for several seconds and release on an inhale.
  • Leg lifts. Lie on your back with your legs straight. Slowly lift both legs so that they form a 30-degree angle with the floor. Keep your abs tight and your lower back flush with the floor.

Remember that any exercise program, whether it includes abdominal exercises, yoga, Pilates or an exercise ball, should always be approved by your doctor, especially if you have a spine condition. Some exercises can even make your condition worse, so a physician’s advice is essential to the formation of an exercise program that’s right for you.

While many patients are able to find lasting relief by following a doctor’s recommendation for conservative treatments, such as exercise, they don’t work for everyone. If you are considering surgery for the treatment of a spine condition, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures, offering patients a shorter recovery time with less risk of complication.^

We will be happy to help you receive a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.