Building core strength the right way: Tips for a healthier spine from the experts at Desert Pain

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CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Maintaining an active lifestyle with strong core and back muscles is one of the best ways to prevent or delay diseases of the spine, which can cause severe back pain. 

Some of these diseases include arthritis within the facet joints of the spine, spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease, all of which we treat at Desert Pain Specialists. These conditions can be caused by a combination of many factors, among them age, genetics and activity level. 

Mind your movement

Keeping strong core and back muscles reduces the risk of these conditions causing severe pain by developing an “inner brace” or corset to help support and minimize strain on the spine. Additionally, strain can be further reduced by maintaining proper posture while performing strenuous activities, avoiding jarring movements, staying at a healthy weight and minimizing heavy lifting.

Jarring of the spine can be caused by a variety of recreational activities, from off-roading on ATVs to playing tennis or running. As we age and degenerative conditions start to take their toll, it’s important to be more mindful of the impact your activities have on your spine. 

Choose lower-impact activities 

A treatment room with a view at Desert Pain Specialists, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Jeff Hauck courtesy of Desert Pain Specialists, St. George News

Many of my patients remain active by playing pickleball, biking, swimming or walking, which create less jarring movements and tend to be less strenuous on the spine. 

The best activity to remain active, build muscle and avoid strain on the body is swimming. Water allows patients to move freely and can be a great tool to promote weight loss as well. 

Maintain a healthy weight

Losing weight is always easier said than done, but maintaining a healthy weight can significantly improve your odds of reducing back pain as extra weight equals extra strain on the spine. Studies have shown that nearly one-third of Americans who are obese experience episodes of back pain. 

It’s important to slowly work yourself into activity to build stamina and muscle. There are many ways to build core strength, but it’s crucial to do them the right way to avoid causing more harm than help. 

Build muscle strength

Healthy exercises I recommend to build core strength include bird dogs and planks. A plank is an exercise where you get into a pushup position and go down to your forearms while keeping your hips elevated and abdominal muscles tight. A bird dog is performed by getting onto your hands and knees, then raising one arm and the opposite leg straight out. 

A welcome waiting room greets guests at Desert Pain Specialists, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Jeff Hauck courtesy of Desert Pain Specialists, St. George News

A good goal to set for both of these exercises is to be able to hold the positions for 90 seconds. However, patients should start small and work their way up to this time. Starting with shorter repetitions a few times throughout the day and gradually increasing the time increments is a great way to work into these exercises and increase core strength.

In summary, there are many ways to build core strength and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Keeping strong core and back muscles is the best way to ensure a healthy spine. It’s important to avoid impact on the spine, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, maintain a healthy weight, avoid excessive stomach weight and practice good posture. There are also many community resources that can help you achieve these goals. 

If you’re experiencing back pain and need more guidance or treatment, reach out to Desert Pain. 

Written by NICK STUCKI, NP, Desert Pain Specialists. 

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T • 


  • Desert Pain Specialists | Telephone: 435-216-7000 | Email: [email protected] | Website.
  • Locations:
    • St. George: 617 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 301.
    • Hurricane: 48 S. 2500 West, Suite 110.
    • Cedar City: 1760 N. Main St.
    • Beaver: 68 N. Main St.
    • Panguitch: 200 N. 400 East.
    • Kanab: 460 E. 300 South, Suite 4.
    • Mesquite, Nevada: 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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