The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

Nearly everyone at some point has back pain that interferes with work, routine daily activities, or recreation. Most occurrences of low back pain tend to go away within a few days. However by strengthening your core, improving your posture and increasing your daily exercise you could prevent it from happening at all.

Back pain is a common condition—affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lives. – Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.

What is my “core”?

Your core is made up by the muscles found at the obliques, abdominals, lower back, and the glutes. They are essentially the powerhouse of the body and make up the areas that frame the posture of a person. Hence, a good posture reflects the good condition of these muscle areas.

Why should I strengthen my core?

Strengthening your core muscles has many benefits, some of which directly effect pain management, increase range of motion and increase quality of life. Since having a strong core is critical for decreasing the amount of pressure that gets placed on the lower back and abdomen, performing various exercises that are targeted to increase their strength makes sense.

What’s the best way to sit?

Sitting puts more pressure on your back than any other position, even more than standing. To reduce this pressure, sit in chairs with straight backs or low-back support. Keep your knees a little higher than your hips. Adjust the seat or use a low stool to prop your feet on.

Office work often results in poor posture and strain to the lower back. Sitting puts more pressure on your back than any other position, even more than standing. To reduce this pressure:

  • Sit in ergonomically designed chairs or those with low back support.
  • Be aware of your posture throughout the day and make adjustments to correct it.
  • Take regular breaks from sitting at your desk to stretch and move around.

Since low back pain can be caused by various injuries to the spine, it is advisable to see a practitioner who specializes in back pain prior to beginning any exercise program. After seeking professional advice, try not to let low back pain prevent you from light to moderate exercise. While it can cause some pain in the beginning, it can reduce your pain in the long run. Common activities include walking, hiking, yoga, and Pilates.

Targeted exercises, as mentioned above, lead by a physiotherapist or strength trainer would have the most benefit for long term prevention. The best strategies for treating or preventing low back are to aim to keep your core strong, your posture straight and include some regular physical activity.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. CATANZARO J. Posture Improvement Through Strength Training. Fitness Business Canada. January 2014;15(1):30-32.
2. de Sousa P, Silva M, de Lima-Pardini A, Teixeira L. Resistance Strength Training’s Effects on Late Components of Postural Responses in the Elderly. Journal Of Aging & Physical Activity. April 2013;21(2):208-221.
3. Han C, Wang W, Cheng B, Liu S. Basic Issues of the Core Strength Training: The Core Area and Core Stability. Journal Of Tianjin Institute Of Sport / Tianjin Tiyu Xueyuan Xuebao. March 2012;27(2):117-120
4. McKean M. Understanding the role of strength training. Australian Pistol Shooter’s Bulletin. December 2012;19(3):6-9.
5. Strength Training Best for Reducing Back Pain. IDEA Fitness Journal. May 2009;6(5):12.
6. Worobey S, La Rosa Loud R, Westcott W. Strength training for posture: put your clients on a regular program of strength and stretching exercises to improve posture and reduce back pain, both of which are often a cause of muscle weakness. Fitness Management. June 2002;18(7):46;48-49.
7. Yu J, Lee G. Effect of core stability training using pilates on lower extremity muscle strength and postural stability in healthy subjects. Isokinetics & Exercise Science. June 2012;20(2):141-146.