Core Strengthening

How to Prevent Back Injuries.

By Pete Schultz, MSPT

Imagine floating on a peaceful lake in a canoe. Now imagine being in that same canoe with a cannon. Yes, cannon. What do you think would happen if you fired that cannon?

I'm sure you'd imagine the outcome wouldn't be good. Mainly because there's not a lot of support offered by the canoe. It's also the reason why many of us get back injuries. We're trying to fire a cannon off a canoe.

Now there may not be much you can do for the canoe but you can work on stabilizing your spine so you can prevent back injuries.

How do you stabilize your spine to prevent injuries?

The first thing you must do is focus on strengthening your core muscles. Most people immediately think of doing crunches when they hear this. But crunches only reach the outer level, or cosmetic portion, of your abs. The portion that gives you the highly coveted 6-pack.

We're more concerned with the muscles that go deeper, called the transverse abdominus. The transverse abdominus, the oblique--muscles along your rib cage, and the muscles of the lower back--the multifidus, provide the most stabilization for preventing back injuries. These muscles act like a girdle around your spine and do the best job of stabilizing your core.

Why do you want to stabilize your core?

Subconsciously, whenever you attempt to do anything, even something simple like reaching for a cup of water, these stabilizing muscles respond first. When your core is stabilized you lessen the chances of being thrown off your canoe and ending up with a back injury.

When you get back pain or an injury, studies are showing it's because these muscles aren't responding like they should.

By focusing on the three areas mentioned above, you create a balance which keeps you afloat. If you don't work on these areas equally it's almost like wearing a girdle but not tying it. Not very effective.

How do you work these areas for maximum stability?

It actually takes a lot of hands on training to learn how to get to these deeper areas of support. But one simple way to get started is by performing Pilates based exercises. These exercises help activate the deep abdominal muscles and build your awareness of them.

Of course, you can always contact us at the office about setting up a routine for you to help prevent back injuries. Then you won't have to worry about firing a cannon off a canoe!

To your health,
Jon, Pete and Michelle

If you have any questions please give us a call at the office (212) 317-8303.