How To Set Your Core
The first thing to learn if you have low back pain or sciatica
The most important thing for me when I learned how to actually put an end to my back pain and sciatica pain was learning how to set more core muscles and keep a neutral spine by retraining my core muscles to work the way they are supposed to. For the unfortunate people who end up with low back injuries, disc herniation, or nerve impingement, often the core muscles become extremely weakened and contribute to a continued cycle of pain.
Learning to set your core is essential if you want to recover from a lower back pain or sciatica problem.
Remember that if you remember anything else from this post. It is the most important thing I will say here, but don’t stop reading now because I’m now going to explain how to start re-training your core muscles to work together to protect the lower back and spine as they are supposed to!
I thought that it would just be easier to record a video than to type out the whole process and hope that people understand it, so here’s a link to the video I made to explain everything I’m going to write about below this embedded video:
What Is A ‘Neutral Spine’?
The easiest way to find a neutral spine position is to lay down on the floor, with your shoulder blades nice and flat with the floor. They shouldn’t hurt or be digging into the floor or uncomfortable while laying on the floor. With your knees bent at a comfortable angle and feet flat on the floor you should be able to get a few fingers between the small arch in the lower back and the floor.
If you can get your whole hand under you have too much of an arch. If you can’t get a couple fingers under and your back is flat to the floor, your spine is curved and your posture is likely quite bad. Try to adjust to a neutral spine and aim to keep it there as much as possible (all day).
Transversus Abdominus Setting
To find the Transversus Abdominus muscle (TrAb) you should lay down as described above, and feel with your fingers about in inch and a half down and inwards from your hip bones. When you tighten that muscle you are tightening the Transversus Abdominus. Practice holding this muscle tight for 10-15 seconds at a time, and repeat up to 10 times a day!
The next muscle group to learn when setting your core is the multifidus which is the muscles used if you were to intentionally arch your back. Tighten these muscles without creating extra arch in your back, just tighten them and figure out which muscles are the right ones. Do the same exercise as with the TrAb and hold for 10-15 seconds, repeat up to 10 times.
Pelvic Floor/Kegals Setting
These muscles are also part of setting your core, the kegal muscles are the ones you would use if you were to cut off the flow of urine while peeing. Do the same exercises as with the Multifidus and TrAb by holding for 10 seconds and repeating up to 10 times.
Now Combine All Three
Now to set your core you should combine all 3 of these muscle groups while holding a neutral spine. This is setting your core. Practice all 3 muscle groups the same way, hold for 10 seconds, and repeat up to 10 times a day.
Remember to try to keep your core set any time you are doing pretty much anything! This will help you start recovering from your back injury after some time and effort.
Now Let’s Toughen You Up A Bit!
Alternating Knee Raises
While laying on the floor with your core set, slowly raise one leg up to 90 degrees while keeping your core set. Make sure there are no twists or changes in your spine while you do this. Slowly lower the leg back down to the ground and then do the other side. Go slow and make sure to keep your core set and your spine neutral. Do each leg 10-15 times, and do 3 sets a day if you can!
Alternating Bent Knee Fall Outs
The last exercise for this post is the bent knee fall out. The idea is the same, keep your core set and slowly let one leg fall out to the side while holding your core muscles tight and not allowing your spine to twist or hips to move. Only go as far as you can and then bring the leg slowly back up, then do the other side. Repeat each side 10-15 times while keeping your core set and spine neutral. Do 3 sets a day of the alternating bent knee fall outs as well as the alternating knee raises and you will be on your way to strengthening your core and fixing your low back pain and sciatica pain!