I’ve been getting the same question over and over again lately and I need to get something of chest. When dealing with lower back pain there seems to be some confusion between function and strength.
Every day I hear from someone who has been spending hours each week doing core exercises to rid them of back pain. They are sick of their pain and frustrated that these dam exercises either don’t make a difference or they help until they take a single week off!
The truth is, I see 80-year-old women here who have poor core tone and don’t have back pain and I see professional athletes who spend hours in the gym and chronically suffer with back pain. So is there really a correlation between core strength and pain? If you’re an elite athlete with an amazing core that is still getting pain why would increasing the that strength even more stop it? It just doesn’t seem to make sense?
Firstly, we need to understand the difference strength and function. Have you ever woken up in the morning and as you got about of bed thought about all the different muscles that need to work and tried to contract them? To think about these contractions would take so much mind power and thought that after 2 steps you would give up.
These muscles automatically turn on and off based upon learned patterns over many years of movement. We often see a failure of these patterns as a major source of pain in people. When muscle function changes the nervous system doesn’t activate muscles as required to complete movement. The result is incorrect levels of support DURING muscle contraction. These are often caused by minor functional problems within the nervous system
For example, there could be a specific strain pattern in the muscle that provides incorrect input into the nervous system giving the brain the wrong information regarding movement.
In order to correct this dysfunction, the culprit needs to be clearly identified and reset.
A few simple corrections is often enough to reset the neurological mechanisms and bring relief to so many people.