The spine is only able to support small amounts of weight without the help of the surrounding muscles. Therefore, maintaining very good core strength is important to having a healthy, pain-free spine. The core stabilization program is a series of exercises designed to improve balance, coordination, strength, and endurance of the trunk and pelvic muscles. Gentle, regular stretches of the legs and spine are also necessary to balance the core muscles, and minimize stress across the joints.
In any exercise program, it is important to focus on setting up a strong foundation for the exercises to avoid unnecessary stress on the body. It is important to begin with the spine in a neutral position. This position is achieved by gently tightening the abdominal muscles to draw in the pelvis. As a result, the hips come forward and the curvature of the low back flattens to a firm, but comfortable position. This position not only balances the forces on the spine, but it relieves pressure on the low back and sacrum where they contact the floor or mat.
Begin with the beginner program and gradually work towards the advanced and physio-ball progressions. The lower intensity sessions can be performed daily as long as it is comfortable. The higher intensity sessions may be performed every other day to give your body time to recover from the exercises.
You may find certain exercises cause an increase in your low back or leg symptoms (if present). It is best to avoid the exercises that cause pain, or limit the extent of the exercise. For instance, patients with spinal stenosis may not feel comfortable extending the spine to the degree recommended in the animation. Perform the exercise to the best of your ability. If it is too tender, only do the exercises that you feel comfortable doing.
Disclaimer: The exercises described on this web site may not be appropriate for everyone. All individuals should consult their physician regarding the advisability of undertaking the activities suggested in this program. The Illinois Spine & Scoliosis Center is neither responsible, nor liable for any harm or injury resulting from this program or the use of the exercises or exercise devices described herein.