Last Fall I pulled by back right before we were about to host our monthly social group party. I was in a rush to get things done, lifting heavy objects, not using good form and then went to sweep my steps and “OWWWW”.   I threw the broom down and waddled to my foam roller but it was too late – I had pulled my back.  It was so uncomfortable and gave me a great appreciation for my clients, friends and family that experience pain all the time.  This fall I vow not to do that and I know you won’t either because you are going to learn to SET YOUR CORE when you do EVERYTHING.

NOTE: If you have recurring back pain you should see your doctor immediately.   If you occasionally pull your back then read on.

Setting your core is not a new concept to me.  If you have ever taken one of my exercise classes or exercised with me personally, you’ve heard my rant.  The issue is that setting your core isn’t just important when you are exercising – it should be practiced ALL THE TIME!  It helps to prevent injuries in everyday  activities from housework, to walking, to golfing to raking those fall leaves!

The technical description of setting the core is to contract the spinal stabilizer muscles, particularly the transversus abdominis (the deepest abdominal muscle).It is the “corset muscle” of the spine and pelvis. This muscle works in partnership with muscles in your back and butt to keep your posture tall and your back safe from any strains or unwanted forces that can cause pain or injury down the road.

Now I want you to practice setting your core:

  • Stand up and put your hands on your belly with your fingers pointing towards your belly button. Now cough. This contraction is what I mean by setting your core.
  • You can also think of setting your core the same as bracing yourself for a punch in the gut. Don’t let anyone punch you though!

This contraction or bracing is what I want you to do during daily activities and exercise to prevent that nagging low back pain that might feel worse than a punch in the gut.

Congratulations if you were able to find these muscles and set your core.  Now go practice doing this as you go about your day and let me know how it feels.   If you’d like more ways to prevent back pain,see my  blog  Simple Exercises to Strengthen your Core (and avoid Back Pain)


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