There is some validity to the concept of adding in “core strengthening” exercises to a sciatica program. It was thought that weakness in the core was the cause of sciatica pain. However, there are many facets to muscular strength that need to be taken into account when it comes to core strengthening.
There are 3 major functions related to strength (and it’s all based on a muscular contraction). The first is to facilitate movement (we call this a concentric contraction), the second is to resist movement (isometric contraction or eccentric contraction), and third is to coordinate movement (all three at the right time). The human body, specifically the core needs to follow all three principles in order to function properly.
Most pain relief programs will focus on the first two principles of strength: facilitate movement (such as a partial crunch) and movement prevention (such as a plank motion).
I believe that YOU truly have enough strength in your core to facilitate movement and prevent movement. If not, you would literally fall over like a wet noodle.
A lot of these programs actually overlook the third principle which is to coordinate movement. What does ‘coordinate movement’ mean? When the body contracts, it doesn’t just think about specific muscles moving; in fact, there needs to be a proper sequence of muscular contractions at the right time and force that will allow the body to move properly and efficiently. Meaning that we need to be able to have our core muscles operate effectively so that the rest of the body (primarily the hips and shoulders) can move the most efficiently.
If movement coordination isn’t present, we are missing out on 33% of the needed strength for normal function. And this can lead to overcompensations, pain, and movement inefficiency. So how can you do this? By thinking about how every movement and activity will begin at the core (aka, your midsection).
This simple concept of “bracing” will be key to helping you generate tension through your core, but also let the rest of your body move normally. It is a simple 4 step process which I’ll describe with you here, or you can check out the video.
- Position your feet underneath your hips or shoulders (up to you)
- Squeeze your butt muscles together
- Pull the rib cage down towards your pelvis
- Pull the shoulder blades back and down
This is the basis to every exercise that is focusing on building up your strength, and this is something that you should be doing when picking things up from the floor, or even rising/sitting to a chair/couch (also known as the squat).
You’ll even notice that your body feels stronger. With that strength you will build the confidence to move, which can help with reducing your sensitivity to your pain.
If you are interested in more videos focused on your recovery, check out our Sciatica Protocol which will provide you a step by step routine to help you get out of pain. You can take the free survey to get started here.