Just as the stays support the mast and
the cables support the bridge, your core
muscles support your spine.
The muscles in your abdomen and back – which we call the “core” – are central to
your everyday spine health. They are at
the heart of any fitness regimen designed
to strengthen a healthy or ailing back.
Just as you protect your heart through
cardiovascular exercises, you will benefit
from strengthening your back through
For those who are experiencing difficulties
with their back, a gentle, step-by-step
strengthening program is an important
aspect of recovery and prevention. For
those with a healthy back, maintaining or
increasing strength in the core muscles is
Strong core muscles work by taking the
stress off the discs and joints. Picture for a
moment your bony spine, a long, curving
structure consisting of 33 vertebrae from the
base of your head to your tailbone. Strong
muscles can take some of the stress off that
backbone. This is especially important as we
age because, as we know, deterioration of the
joints is another unfortunate consequence of
the aging process.
Our patients who have been most successful in maintaining their spine health are those who have incorporated a spine exercise program into their daily routine, right along with bathing, brushing, and flossing.
If you are already performing core exercises regularly, keep it up! If you are not, consult with your primary care physician, a physical therapist, or a trainer at a fitness facility before you begin. The good news about core exercises is that they can be easily done in the comfort of your home without extra equipment or expense. We encourage you to make an effort to develop these new habits, as a strong core will reward you with long-term benefits.
Sit on a Swiss Ball
Sitting on a Swiss ball is one way to train your back. It moves easily requiring you to activate your postural muscles and train your balance. You can improve posture, strengthen and stretch your core muscles, and burn calories. At the computer or reaching for the phone, your muscles react, ultimately improving your sense of balance--on or off the ball!
The Swiss ball is a core stability tool. If you sit in a standard chair, you aren't using your muscles to maintain your balance and posture; you're relaxed. On the ball, those core muscles are constantly working.
The Swiss ball comes in a variety of sizes, and prices vary with quality. Pick the right size for your height. Opt for a non-burst ball.
Tips as you sit on the ball:
- Sit with thighs parallel to the floor
- Stop slouching; use your back, abs, and glutes
- Train your balance
- Increase your time and training with the ball -- gradually
Sources & links
If you have questions, please contact Mayfield Brain & Spine at 800-325-7787 or 513-221-1100.
reviewed by: Lisa Cleveland, PT
Mayfield Certified Health Info materials are written and developed by the Mayfield Clinic. This information is not intended to replace the medical advice of your health care provider.