Many of us will suffer a painful low back episode in our lifetime. Whether temporary or chronic, the low back pain associated with back episodes can be unpleasant and debilitating. One common treatment approach for low back pain involved strengthening of the “core” muscles. These are the muscles which surround and support the spinal column and include the transverses abdominis, lumbar multifidus (the deeper trunk muscles), the lumbar paraspinals and abdominal muscles (the superficial trunk muscles). As well as supporting the spinal column, these muscles also help in stabilizing and minimizing compressive forces on the spine, forces which often contribute to back pain.

A recent clinical study indicated that retaining and strengthening of the deeper trunk muscles may improve function (the ability to carry out normal daily tasks) as well as decrease low back pain. This can be combined with the strengthening of the superficial trunk muscles which has also been demonstrated to reduce pain and improve function in clinical studies.

These types of exercises require little to no equipment and can be easily performed at home subsequent to professional evaluation and instruction, and with program monitoring.

Those suffering from chronic low back pain who have not responded to other interventions and maybe be considering surgery may want to discuss core strengthening with their physician. This approach, under the direction of a skilled physical therapist, maybe another effective tool in helping manage low back pain.