Core Muscle Weakness
Core Weakness refers to poor strength, power generation or muscular endurance of one or more of the muscles that comprise the Core Muscles. The Core Muscles include the abdominals, the obliques, the transversus muscles, as well as the muscles of the diaphragm and those muscles that make up the Pelvic Floor. Weakness of the Core Muscles can lead to poor posture when in static or moving positions, can lead to increased discomfort in the lower and midback, can lead to increased stiffness of muscles around the core, and can increase the risk of irritation and injury of those structures.
Core Weakness comes about through many different means, and because the core is made up of many different muscles, the experience of core weakness and the consequences thereof can be different from person to person. Typically, core weakness occurs due to gradual deconditioning of the muscles of the abdomen and the lower back. This gradual weakening is usually not pathological, but a consequence of sustained sedentary postures throughout the day. Jobs and occupations that require sustained sitting in supported and unsupported postures and which require sustained standing are risk factors for core weakness. Additionally, even occupations that require standing and movement can impose stress on the core that uses some muscles but not others, leading to weakness of some but not all muscles of the core.
Weakness of the Core Muscles, poor posture, and poor muscular endurance are risk factors for developing back pain, and are often the first things addressed in the management of that condition. However, Core Weakness can have other effects too. A weak Core makes it more difficult to lift, move, and push objects as well as increasing the risk of injury from recreational exercises like running, weightlifting, and cycling, as well as awkward movements like those needed around the house. In severe cases, postural effects from Core Weakness can lead to irritation and discomfort in the lower back, the shoulders, the neck and the hips. The Core Muscles are those that provide stability to the abdomen and lower back, and therefore their conditioning is an important consideration in general health.
Core Weakness is managed firstly by ensuring that the muscles, joints, and segments of the lower back, ribcage and pelvis can all move in a painfree and easy manner. Following this, conditioning of the Core Muscles requires a specific program, which can involve exercises like reformer or mat pilates, yoga, tai chi, or basic isometric or repetitive exercises. Finally, Core Muscle reconditioning requires use of the core in a vigorous sport- or exercise-based context, such as in recreational physical activity on a pitch or in the gym. Regardless of the severity, timecourse and overall plan, your physiotherapist is the best person to consult regarding weakness of the core muscles.
Management of your discomfort depends on its causative factors, how it feels and changes during the day, what makes it better and worse, and the length of time you have been experiencing that pain. All of these factors will be addressed in your initial assessment, which is the first step toward managing and minimising any pain or discomfort. The treatment you receive will be tailored to address the specific cause of your discomfort, and will focus on minimising pain, maximising your ability to move pain-free, and developing a plan to minimise the risk of a flare-up in the future.
At Atlas Physio, we will provide you with education, structured management, and ongoing monitoring of your pain both in-clinic and out. Contact us to arrange an assessment, and to take the first step on a course of corrective care today.