Low Back Pain School – Lesson 2
Dr. Theresa went live on LinkedIn for Lesson 2 of Low Back School. This session focused on Core Stability: what the core is, what it is NOT, and how to work on yours! Check out some of her key points below and watch the video replay for the full depth coverage.
Key Takeaways from the Low Back School, Lesson 2
#1 The core is NOT just your abs!
When we think of core exercises, crunches and planks often come to mind. Maybe a six-pack comes to mind. However, the core actually spans from the base of your neck all the way down to your thighs! It consists of both shallow and deep muscles in your back, sides, and hips. And two of the most important core muscles involved in core stability are ones that we often forget we have: the diaphragm and the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that surround our genitals). All of these work together to help us breathe, move, lift, throw, bend, and twist, so to generalize, the stronger and more stable your core muscles are, the easier “moving through life” becomes.
#2 Our posture affects our ability to breathe, and our breath is important for our core stability.
Trying to breathe deeply while hunched over or arched backward is challenging. This is because in order to breathe most efficiently, our diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles need to be stacked on top of each other. Dr. T took some time in the video to teach proper breathing mechanics, including a drill where you can use your hands to give you feedback on if you’re breathing correctly.
Learning to breathe deeply using your diaphragm can help you properly brace while lifting heavy things, and more importantly, when combined with learning to load your hip muscles, can often bring some relief for low back pain.
#3 Breathing can also be a tool to control our nervous system’s “tone.”
Dr. T described breath as a remote control for the brain and body. It can turn stress levels up or down. Think about how you feel when you hyperventilate: big inhales, fast exhales creates a sensation of lightheadedness, unrest, and anxiety. Now think about slow, deep inhales and long exhales. This creates a sense of calm in our body. These effects are mediated by the “vagus nerve,” a master controller of our “rest and digest” (parasympathetic) system. Since we have voluntary control of our breathing, we can use long exhales to create calm in stressful situations. Other ways we can get similar effects include: singing, cold exposure, humming, probiotics, and movement.