Core Strengthening 101: How to Reduce Chronic Back and Hip Pain

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The core or “corset muscle group” consists of our abdominal muscles and lower back. These muscles collectively provide stability, balance, and posture to the torso. No matter our age, weight, or physique, almost all of us have experienced back pain or hip pain at one point. Luckily, we can often reduce or completely avoid this awful sensation altogether with a solid core strengthening program.

When most people think about core strength, they assume it’s just about the abs or having a “six-pack.” In addition to providing joint stability and healthy posture, there are many other muscles around and connected to our abs, each with different core functions to perform. Any weakness in this area can result in back pain or SI pain, i.e., issues with the Sacroiliac Joint.

If not addressed early, chronic back and/or hip pain may ensue, which makes us unable to fully enjoy our everyday lifestyle. In that case, we need to strengthen our core muscles to deal with this chronic pain directly.

Understanding the Transverse Abdominis (TA) | Core Strengthening to Reduce Back Pain & SI Issues

We will discuss one particular core muscle known as the transverse abdominis. Usually, when people do strength training exercises, they tend to overlook this muscle, yet it’s one of the most important core muscles that need our attention.

The TA is a core muscle right behind the abdominal area. The function of this muscle is to stabilize our spine when we’re doing different activities. If we don’t activate this muscle, it creates problems with our spine, lower back, and hips, particularly the Sacroiliac Joint.

How to Activate the Transverse Abdominis for Core Strength & Stability

See the video at the top of this blog for a step-by-step guide to this exercise:

First, you should lie down on your back comfortably. Have your knees bent towards your abdomen to release some of the abdominal tension. Now, take two fingers and feel around your front hip bone. Once you locate it, you should roll your finger slightly inward to the softer area around the hip. That’s where you’re going to feel the TA muscle contract.

While doing this, place both fingers from both of your hands on the two sides of your hip, touching the points and putting slight pressure down to feel your TA muscles contract from both sides.

Now you should draw your abdomen downward, toward your spine, without holding your breath. You’ll feel your TA muscle raise upwards and push onto your fingers when you do this. You should be able to hold this position comfortably without running out of breath.

How to Activate Your Transverse Abdominis TA Muscle | Core Strengthing for Back and Hip Pain

Do These TA Exercises for 3-5 Seconds, and Then Relax

You should go through the steps above a few times to get used to the feeling. Try to avoid contracting and putting tension on any part of your body other than the area you’re working on.

While doing this, which might take you a few tries to get it right, there is no need to strain yourself at all. Your goal should be to hold this position for a longer period, around 10-15 seconds per repetition, so that you can activate this muscle properly. As soon as you learn how to fully activate your TA muscles, you can go on further to build more stability in that region.

And as always, if you or a loved one are experiencing pain when lifting or any of the symptoms associated with core strengthening detailed above, we would be happy to speak with you in person, on the phone, or at our physical therapy clinics in south Austin and Houston (Cypress, Katy & Richmond), Texas as well as Steamboat Springs, CO.

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