Many people subscribe to the idea that the core is just an ambiguous muscle in the middle of the body, when in reality it is so much more. The core is a system of muscles that work together to influence almost every move your body makes, excluding those of the limbs. This makes the core important, but it also means that working out the core properly is important to. For people concerned with using their core to improve the condition of their back, we need to look at the core differently than someone who is looking to get "ripped abs."
The core can be used as a force producer but this is, in all reality, secondary to its nature. Exercises like crunches strengthen the abs and make the stomach powerful at iniating movement. So...try twisting crunches instead! For people who want to use the core to add support to the vertebrae and muscles of the lower back, we want the core to be a prime stabilizer: using exercises such as planks, side planks, bridges and deadlifts strengthens the core holistically creating a powerful, injury resistant center of the body. This helps to bear some of the burden that is placed on the lower back.
The core as a stabilizer is an excellent idea for people looking to rehabilitate injury or prevent one from ever happening again. At Community Chiropractic & Acupuncture, we urge you not to start an indiscriminate plan for "strengthening the core," without consulting an expert first. While internet blogs and fitness magazines are good (albeit inconsistent) places to get information, our office offers you a personalized evaluation and health plan.
Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C.