Core Stability and Back Pain

What is core stability?

Your core stability muscles are the deep trunk muscles: Transversus abdominis (deepest layer of stomach muscle), multifidus (deep back muscles), and your pelvic floor (muscles at the base of the pelvis which support the bladder, uterus and bowel). These muscles are key to the active support of the lumbar spine. When they contract, they all work together to form a protective corset for the lower back.  Whenever a person moves (e.g. to lift something or shift position) these core muscles pre-empt the movement and will tense first, this tension is made unconsciously.

Core stability and back pain

Core stability is an essential component for the maintenance of upright posture and for stability with movement or lifting. Without core stability the lower back is less supported from within, and injuries can be sustained.

What can go wrong?

When you have back pain these core stability muscles may automatically switch off, so your protective corset is no longer working. People often then splint their spines with their diaphragm bracing instead which can overload the pelvic floor or alter their thoracic mobility.

How will retraining core stability muscles help?

  • It can prevent or reduce recurrence of back pain
  • It can help maintain good posture
  • It helps to reduce excessive uncontrolled movement of the lower back joints, which could injure them
  • It can help to improve power in the arm and leg muscles as you have a more stable base to work from

How do I activate my core stability muscles?

  • Start by lying on your back with both knees bent up.

Crook lying

  • Try to do some relaxed breaths, don’t tense your abdomen.
  • Now on a breath out, try to slowly and gently draw your belly button in towards your spine. You should feel a very mild tension or tightening in the lower abdomen – it is NOT a strong or fast contraction. Hold this contraction and keep breathing for 4-5 breaths. Then relax.
  • If the abdominal contraction is too difficult, try thinking about your pelvic floor: On a breath out, slowly and gently draw up your pelvic floor, as though you were trying to stop the flow of urine while going to the toilet (for men, think of trying to lift the testicles up). Hold this contraction while you keep breathing for 4-5 breaths.
  • You should not get any movement in your lower back or pelvis, nor should you get any pain with this exercise.
  • You can palpate (or feel) the contraction with your fingertips placed gently inside the bony prominences of your hips. As you contract you should feel a slight drawing in (no bulging), as you relax you should feel the contraction melting away.

At Burleigh Heads and Broadbeach Physiotherapy Centres we can help:

  • Assess the quality of your core muscle control
  • Show you how to isolate the core stability muscles
  • Devise an individualised core stability exercise program – this may involve floor exercises, swissball or band exercises depending on your ability
  • Offer individualised clinical pilates classes

Gold Coast Physiotherapy – Burleigh Heads and Broadbeach Physiotherapy Centres 07 5535 5218


Our Response to Covid-19

This page is up to date to our best knowledge, however, this is a rapidly evolving situation so we apologise for any potential delay in updating this information.

We want to reassure all our patients that we are following stringent infection control procedures in our clinic, and screen all people coming into the clinic, to exclude any patients that have any signs or symptoms consistent with Covid-19, as well as screening any patients that should be in isolation ie recently returned from overseas, or have been advised to isolate due to recent exposure with a known Covid-19 patient.

All our staff have now completed the Department of Health Covid-19 Infection Control Training.

What are we doing to minimise risk?

  • Screening patients for risk factors over the phone or through text messages before they attend appointments. Those with risk factors or symptoms are advised not to attend & to seek medical advice.
  • Hand sanitiser station at the front of the building must be used before you enter.
  • Following stringent infection control measures within the clinic. This includes
    • Disinfecting all beds, door handles, EFTPOS machine before and after each patient use.
    • Linen changed between each patient and commonly touched surfaces through the practice are cleaned regularly throughout the day.
    • Minimising the distances between clients in the waiting room- some chairs are outside undercover.
  • We have advised our team members not to come to work if they have cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • We are following all Department of Health recommendations for our type of business.

On the 30th March 2020 – the Australian government issued a statement that “People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.”

The decision to come in for physiotherapy treatment really is an individual one – if you feel that your treatment is medically necessary, and are comfortable with the risks of leaving your home and coming to physiotherapy, then rest assured that when you attend our physiotherapy clinic, we are following our strict infection control processes and doing everything we can to minimise your risk whilst in our care. However, we completely understand if you are not comfortable with coming in for treatment.

TELEHealth Consultations

We are offering telehealth consults and home visits (where suitable) for patients who cannot attend our clinic.

Read more about TELEhealth Consultations here.

Staying Healthy

  • Wash your hands often (and for 20 seconds) with soap and water
  • Cough into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Social distancing practices – Avoiding close contact with others, such as touching, including shaking hands
  • Limit contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick and encourage employees to stay home when sick
  • Get 7-8 hours’ sleep a night to help your immune system stay strong
Please stay safe and take care of each other!

We are monitoring the situation very closely and will make adjustments to our business as we are further informed. Our priority is the health & well being of our patients and our staff. Thanks for your understanding.

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