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Does strengthening your core help with lower back pain?

Introduction: Lower back pain is a common complaint that affects millions of people worldwide. Whether it stems from poor posture, sedentary lifestyles, or muscle imbalances, finding effective solutions is crucial for improving quality of life. One promising avenue for relief is core strengthening, a practice that has gained popularity for its potential to address the root causes of lower back pain.

Understanding the Core: Before delving into the connection between core strength and lower back pain, it's essential to comprehend what the core actually is. The core is not just about having six-pack abs; rather, it comprises a complex network of muscles, including the abdominals, obliques, back extensors, diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles. This interconnected system provides stability and support to the spine, pelvis, and surrounding structures.

The Core-Back Pain Connection: The relationship between core strength and lower back pain lies in the core's role as a stabiliser for the spine. Weakness in the core muscles can lead to poor posture, increased stress on the lower back, and compromised spinal alignment. As a result, individuals with weak core muscles may experience chronic discomfort, muscle imbalances, and even structural issues in the spine.

Benefits of Core Strengthening for Lower Back Pain:

  1. Improved Posture: A strong core promotes better posture by supporting the spine and preventing slouching. Proper alignment reduces strain on the lower back and minimizes the risk of developing chronic pain.

  2. Enhanced Stability: Core exercises focus on strengthening the muscles that stabilis

  1. e the spine. This increased stability can help prevent excessive movement in the lower back, reducing the risk of injuries and pain.

  2. Balanced Muscle Activation: Core strengthening exercises engage both the abdominal and back muscles, promoting a balanced distribution of forces. This balance is crucial for maintaining a healthy spine and preventing muscle imbalances that can contribute to lower back pain.

  3. Reduced Pressure on Discs: Core strength contributes to a more evenly distributed load on the intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. This can alleviate pressure on the discs and reduce the likelihood of herniation or degeneration.

Effective Core Exercises for Lower Back Pain:

  1. Planks: Strengthen the entire core, including the abdominals, obliques, and back muscles.

  2. Bird-Dog Exercise: Engages the core muscles and promotes stability by extending one arm and the opposite leg while on hands and knees.

  3. Pelvic Tilts: Targets the lower back and pelvic muscles, helping to improve lumbar stability.

  4. Bridge Exercise: Strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles, contributing to overall core strength.

  5. Diaphragm Breathing: Using controlled diaphragm breathing will activate the unconscious level of the core structures.

Conclusion: Incorporating core strengthening exercises into your fitness routine can be a proactive and effective approach to addressing lower back pain. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional or a certified fitness trainer before starting any new exercise program, especially if you are already experiencing lower back issues. By investing time and effort in strengthening your core, you may unlock the key to a healthier, pain-free lower back and an improved overall quality of life.

Do you want to know what is causing your pain and if we can help?  Why not book in to see one of our osteopaths who can help to treat the root cause of your pain.



1 – Fawkes C, Carnes D. Patient reported outcomes in a large cohort of patients receiving osteopathic care in the United Kingdom. PLoS One. 2021 Apr 16;16(4):e0249719. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0249719. PMID: 33861778; PMCID: PMC8051759.

2 – NICE Guidelines. Low back pain and sciatica in over 16s: assessment and management, 2020.  Available at;

3 – Akuthota V, Nadler SF. Core strengthening. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation. 2004 Mar 1;85:86-92.

4 – Hodges PW. Is there a role for transversus abdominis in lumbo-pelvic stability?. Manual therapy. 1999 May 1;4(2):74-86.

Posted by: Katie Greenwood 2024

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