Think of the pelvis as your foundation. If your foundation is unstable then other structures must take up the slack such as the muscles of the spine and back. This is a job they were never designed for.
Spine stabilization starts with learning how to keep the spine NEUTRAL when performing stabilization exercises and then learning to maintain NEUTRAL throughout life. Neutral does not mean straight. It means allowing the natural curves of the spine to be present. It is imperative to allow the spine to function As soon as one can maintain neutral spine, the next progression is to strengthen the core. This is where properly taught pelvic stabilization and lower abdominal re-training is paramount because to control the spine is to control the pelvis. The pelvis is the foundation of the body where the spine attaches. As we stated previously, if the foundation is off the rest of the house is off. Therefore, lack of pelvic control leads to lack of spinal control.
How does one control the pelvis? Through core-strengthening exercises that engage the lower abdominal wall and oblique muscles function properly and movement to occur in a stress-free manner. How is this done? NOT by sit ups or crunches. The prevailing myth is that crunches and leg raises will strengthen the all-important 6-pack abs. Unfortunately crunches and leg raises actually cause back issues to get worse by causing increased pressures and stresses on the disks.
Lower abdominal training is the place to start because it’s the foundation or the “core” of the body. Training the lower abdominal wall with proper abdominal firing places less stress on the vertebral discs and effectively activates the outer unit musculature (movement system). This allows proper muscle activation at the right times, with proper movement patterns and less stress to tissues and greater muscular and mechanical efficiency as the end result.
Core training involves proper lower abdominal contraction or Abdominal Bracing. This involves coordinated firing of the abdominal wall while deactivating the hip flexors and keeping the upper body and legs relaxed. Learning this concept and the concept of spine stabilization with neutral spine will naturally lead to learning how to find, maintain and work within the parameters of coordinated spinal mechanics.
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Bryan Fass, BA, ATCL, CSCS, NREMT-P
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