To understand the importance of reasonably strong abdominal muscles in spinal stability, keep in mind that the human spine is made up of twenty-four separate bones (vertebras) stacked one on top another and held together by ligaments.
This arrangement of spinal bones is supported by back muscles and in the front by abdominal muscles. Neck muscles and the ribcage also help support the upper spine. But it is the abdominal muscles which compress the body’s innards against the spinal column in front. Thus, (among other functions) those belly muscles playa very important role in holding the lower spine in its proper position.
CONSTANT BALANCING ACT
Besides all that, a never-ending “balancing act” goes on between the back muscles, hip muscles and abdominal muscles, a process which helps keep the erect spine balanced. Obviously, then, one requirement for good spinal health is that the muscles involved in the spine’s stability be reasonably strong and balanced.
When strong back muscles overpower the influence of weak abdominal muscles, it may cause an exaggerated pelvic tilt or “swayback” condition which frequently brings on periodic low back pain and disability. Worse yet, an unstable spine invariably paves the way for vertebral subluxations, painful muscle spasms, pinched nerves, disc degeneration and other serious health problems.
WEAK BELLY MUSCLES COMMON
Because so many of us work in sedentary, sit-down jobs, weak abdominal muscles are common. Yet, if we are serious about avoiding or alleviating back pain and trouble, taking the time to do abdominal muscle-strengthening exercises will usually help our backs and make us feel much better, too.
BUT DO TAKE HEED
Some exercises you see in magazines, in exercise classes, on videotapes and elsewhere are not only bad for your spine (particularly if you already have a problem), some are down-right hazardous if done incorrectly.
CONSULT YOUR CHIROPRACTIC DOCTOR
The CURL UP EXERCISES shown here are effective in increasing abdominal muscle strength and endurance. However, your chiropractor may prefer to prescribe other exercises instead of these, or depending on your condition, may prefer that you not exercise at this time. So let your chiropractor be the judge about whether you should do these exercises.
Weak abdominal muscles are a major underlying cause of spinal instability and the resultant back pain and back trouble. But just a few minutes per day spent in exercising and strengthening abdominal muscles goes a long way toward preventing back pain and correcting back trouble and problems.
Curl Up Exercises
• CURL UPS
Lie on back with knees up, arms out-stretched. Raise head and shoulders from the floor only about a third of the way to a full sit up. Return to starting position.
Arms across chest. Follow CURL UP directions.
Hands clasped behind neck. Follow CURL UP directions.