Is Your Core the Missing Link to Relief?

Is Your Core the Missing Link to Relief? // May 2024 Is Your Core the Missing Link to Relief?
Struggling with Back Pain? Your core may be the missing link to relief. In this blog post, we’ll be exploring what it means to strengthen your core and how to do it best.

Your core includes your abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and your deepest spinal muscle (multifidus). These muscles are responsible for supporting your spine during exercise. Your core muscles provide stability, control movement, and manage abdominal pressure.


Back pain commonly seen at RISE, is typically the result of the back muscles and joints being overworked and overloaded. Without a strong core, the back is experiencing far more load than it is capable of tolerating, which often causes injury. It’s important that we learn to offload these structures by strengthening the core muscles that support our spine.

How exactly do we strengthen the core?

To strengthen our core effectively, we should incorporate exercises that challenge it to resist various spinal movements such as flexion, extension, side bending, and rotation. Planks are an excellent example of this. During a front plank, the engagement of core muscles is essential for maintaining a neutral spine against the downward pull of gravity, offering relief from back discomfort.

Ab curls and Russian Twists are two other great ways to improve overall core strength. Ab curls target the abdominal muscles with the rectus abdominis contracting concentrically, generating force to pull upwards. Simultaneously, the obliques kick in to stabilise the pelvis and spine, preventing excessive movement and ensuring proper alignment throughout the exercise.

The sensation of your abdominal muscles "firing up" during ab curls is similar to the feeling you get in your biceps during a bicep curl. As you lower your head and shoulders back down, the abdominal muscles undergo an eccentric contraction, which is crucial for muscle development and strength gains over time.


Russian twists challenge rotational stability and help to strengthen the entire core. By adding rotation into your training regime, you can improve balance, stability, and functional movement patterns which ultimately reduces the risk of injury.


We can also strengthen our core with pelvic stability exercises. When working with clients experiencing back pain, practitioners generally prescribe pelvic stability exercises. This is because the back is typically in overdrive trying to perform the role of the pelvic stabilisers too. Single leg glute bridges are one way to strengthen the pelvic stabiliser. Not only are we using our hip muscles to lift the pelvis off the floor, but we are also using our smaller stabilisers to keep the hip bones level.


As you can see, there are so many ways to strengthen our core, which can ultimately prevent back pain.


What do you do if you’re getting back pain during core training?


Back pain that occurs during core training is typically the result of incorrect technique or fatigue that causes your back muscles to work harder than they should be. Reduce fatigue and optimise your technique through regular practice, 1:1 support and engaging your core throughout the workday.


It’s important to notify your instructor or practitioner if you are experiencing back pain while completing core work, as this is not a common response and there are adjustments or modifications that can be made to create a more comfortable experience for you. One of our top tips when completing supine core work is to think about imprinting your lower back towards the ground. This will help to engage the core and reduce lower back load.


Training your core muscles regularly improves your skill, strength, and mind-muscle connection. Like anything, repetition is how we get better and regular practice is going to give you the best results. We can’t see our core muscles work in the same way we see our biceps flex in a bicep curl, so much of the process is about learning what you should be feeling. Attending regular Pilates or Strength sessions can help to develop your strength, awareness, and control of your core muscles, and will support you in your daily life. 


Regular movement breaks throughout the day, even just a few minutes at a time, encourage your core muscles to engage and promotes circulation, which is great for the health of your muscles. Aim for a movement break every 30-60 minutes. A great way to do this is to drink water from a glass, and every time you refill the glass in the kitchen, you get to move your body too.


If you’re seeking personalised guidance and support, working with an Allied Health Professional or Clinical Pilates instructor can be beneficial as they can assess your unique needs and goals, provide tailored exercise prescription, and offer ongoing support and encouragement to help you achieve optimal core strength and alleviate back pain.


To explore our available offerings at RISE, including Pilates and Strength classes, Clinical Pilates and Allied Health, click here.

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