How Can Abdominal Exercises Help Spine Pain?
It may seem strange to think that strengthening your muscles with abdominal exercises could actually help mitigate spine pain, but you have to remember that even though the body is made up of hundreds of different parts, it functions as a whole. This means that anything you can do to strengthen one part of the body may naturally benefit your overall health.
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, intervertebral discs and facet joints are forced to endure. This increases the risk of back pain due to a bone spur, slipped disc, disc protrusion, arthritis of the spine and other conditions. By strengthening the core muscles, you not only possibly reduce the risk of the above conditions, but in some cases, you also can speed healing.
- Obliques –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
While sit-ups and crunches are probably the most well-known abdominal exercises, there are many other workouts that can improve the strength of core muscles, such as:
- 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 regimen of exercise, whether it includes abdominal exercises, yoga, Pilates, exercise bikes, an exercise ball, or any other form of activity, should always be approved by your physician first, especially if you have a spinal 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.