A strong and healthy spine starts with a solid foundation of your low back and pelvis. This area of your spine acts as a foundation for the majority of motions you do in a day to day activity but also act as a solid foundation while you sit at your desk all day. Being in downtown Toronto, the second most common complaint that our patients come into our office with is low back pain. Low back pain being second only to neck pain – which we will discuss in a later article.
By now, you should have at least heard of how important core stabilization is to the functioning and health of our bodies. Every single therapist and doctor under the sun has likely talked to you about core stabilization. But why is it so important? Core stability refers to your ability to keep your core structures (abdomen, torso and spine) stable while your extremities (legs and arms) do physical work like walking, running, throwing, lifting, playing sports or even sitting at a desk typing on a computer (yes you need core strength when you sit at your desk).
Seem pretty important to have core stability right? Imagine what would happen if you didn’t have any core stability? Every single time you went to perform a movement with your arms or legs, your whole body would be pulled over in the direction that you moved your arm or leg. This might lead to your falling over or at the least, straining the ligaments that surround your joints! Now you really have to make a trip to see your Chiropractor in Toronto!
So what are your core muscles? Since summer is almost here in Toronto, I bet your mind flashed to images of six pack abs – the abdominal muscles! However, the abdominal muscles in the muscle that contributes the least to core stability! The abdominal's primary role is to move the torso into flexion or curling up into a ball; not to act as a core stabilizer!
The primary stabilizer, and subsequently deepest abdominal muscle layer is the transverse abdominis. The transverse abdominis is supported by the other core muscles which are your internal obliques and the multifidus. Numerous scientific studies have shown that before any movement can occur in your body; these three muscles are engaged beforehand with the transverse abdominis being the first to become engaged. Think of these muscles like a girdle or a corset for your body. When the transverse abdominis contracts, the muscles squeezes and stabilizes the torso to allow your arms and legs to do their job without pulling your body one way or the other.
So what would happen when these core muscles will not function properly?
Research has shown that patients with lower back pain have delayed or insufficient firing patterns of the transverse abdominis when compared to a control group that did not experience any back pain. The result of these studies show that by increasing the activation of the care core muscles, and in particular the transverse abdominis, back pain could be reduced or prevented. One the key ingredients to keep a muscle activated and firing properly is to make sure that the nerves that control the core muscles aren’t pinched or compressed which would alter the muscles ability to proper fire and contract. This is where chiropractic care comes into focus. Chiropractic adjustments help to alleviate the pressure onto compressed nerves in your spine, these nerves, now free to get all the nerve impulses through, allow the core muscles to fire and contract the way they were meant to!
Being a chiropractor in downtown Toronto, we see over and over again improper firing of the core muscles in the spine. This is often caused by poor posture at your desk couple with many hours of inactivity in front of a desk. This weakens the muscles and allows the spine to fall out of normal alignment and begin putting pressure onto the nerves that exit the spine. Now you have a bit of catch 22, you need to strengthen the core muscles so they will keep the core nice and strong and prevent the spine falling out of alignment, but the muscles are controlled by the nerves that are now pinched by being out alignment.
So what do you do?
Well, here at The Well Adjusted Chiropractic Centre in Toronto, we approach chiropractic differently than your normal chiropractic clinic. Everybody else will tell you to just start strengthening your core muscles right away, and for some it works, but for many others, it doesn’t. I see too many patients come in from other chiropractors that were told that all they needed to do was strengthen their core and they’d be “fixed” and could “fix” you in one or two sessions having had no results and actually feel worse. If your core muscles are weak due to improper nerve activation caused by spinal misalignments, would you not want to correct the misalignment so that the nerve is able to properly fire and contract the core muscles properly? Once the nerves are firing properly, work to correct the structural misalignments and then strengthen the core muscles. It seems backwards from what everyone has told you to date (including other chiropractors in Toronto) but it works, it really works, and our success rate is incredibly high (our high skill and technique level do help). If someone is going to tell you they can “fix” you in just a couple visits, walk out the door, this person is clearly trying to sell you that they are a miracle worker. Recovery and proper healing takes time, sometimes months or even years depending on how badly things have been injured….and it’s A LOT of work you have to put in to get better!
A consultation with a chiropractor is key to determining whether starting a core strengthening program would be right for you. Once it is time for proper core strengthening you chiropractor will start you onto your core strengthening program. If you need a chiropractor in Toronto that you need a consultation with prior to beginning your core program, or to just see if a core strengthening program is the best first step for you, give us a call. We are a corrective chiropractic clinic located in downtown Toronto and are always happy to help you out.
Toronto’s Well Adjusted Chiropractor,
Dr. Matthew Hannikainen D.C.