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Posted by in Lower Back pain and your core |


Core strength-do you have it?

Here is a test for you to see

There is a lot of talk these days about core strength and for very good reasons. You need core strength to help your body in everything you do. If not, you are in a lot higher risk bracket of injury. But how do you know if you have good core strength or not? I will show you a test so that you can evaluate your own core strength.

But why should we even bother about having a strong core? Firstly, it is not just your abdominals as many people believe. Your back, stomach, hips are all a part of what is known as your core muscle groups. The reason that these muscles need to be strong is that they support you when you do your daily activities. If they are not strong enough, when you have to do a certain activity your other muscles are then recruited to become stabilisers and you have just set up imbalances leading to injuries.

A classic example of this is the painful lower back when standing. Many people can not stand for very long because their back starts to ache. This is because they do not use their abdominals when standing and allow their lower backs to overarch. This creates a forward tilt in the pelvis. Two perfect examples of this are men with large stomachs (the classic beer belly) and pregnant women. Both suffer from lower back pain due to not using their abdominals to tilt their pelvis which will decrease their arch in their lower backs and remove the back pain. When there is an arch in the lower back that is bigger than it should be it then aggravates the facet joints which causes pain. It is a situation that is totally avoidable! Have you ever wondered why they have that rail in bars for you to put a foot on? It’s because by putting one foot up on the rail takes away some of the arch (from the forward tilted pelvis) and helps the lower back. A man with less lower back pain whilst standing will happily drink more beer! Very clever indeed.

Once you start using your core muscles for things as simple as standing correctly you will have less back pain. An easy way to check this is to look at a person’s belt from side on. The belt should be horizontal not tipped down at the front. So often you will see the person’s belt higher at the back and lower at the front. This is because they are not using their abdominals.

I will be doing a workshop soon on the facts and fallacies of lower back pain and teaching why your back ‘goes out’, how to fix your own back pain, the safest back strengthening exercises, best core exercise combinations and much more.

But for the moment

Rest assured I will be watching your back…

Oh yes, here’s the test for your core

The core strength test

  • Lay down in a plank position on your forearms. (This is the position as if you were doing a push-up but instead of your hands touching the ground you are resting on your forearms.) Do not arch your back! Your back should be straight which works your abdominals. Hold for one minute.if you can do this for one minute you have good core strength. if you can do it for 30-60 seconds you average core strength and if you can do it for less than 30 seconds you dont have core strength!

if you could do it for 60 seconds you may like to try the advanced core test below

  • Now in the same position lift the right arm of the ground and hold for 15 seconds
  • Return the right arm and now do the same with the left arm. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return the left arm and now lift the left leg out straight behind you. Do not arch your lower back. The torso should remain perfectly still, this means that your core is stabilising you. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return the left leg and do the same with the right leg for 15 seconds. Don’t arch your back.
  • Now return the right leg and lift both your left leg and right arm at the same time. Don’t arch your back and try to remain steady at all times. Hold for 15 seconds
  • Finally, return the arm and leg and do the opposite arm and leg for 15 seconds.

If you can do this you have good core strength.

If you could not complete this you do not have sufficient core strength and you should do this test as an exercise 3-4 times per week to build up your stamina. You will soon be stronger and have better core strength stamina which means you will have fewer problems with your lower back, your neck and your shoulders.