When core muscles are weak, those forces are transferred exclusively to the small joints and discs of the lumbar spine. However, these structures are not well designed to bear extreme loads and over time, they too can become overwhelmed. When a joint is overwhelmed, the ligaments holding them together get stretched and torn. This is called a 'sprain' injury. When a person with a de-conditioned core tries to lift a heavy object the forces applied to the lower back can result in both overwhelmed muscles and joints. We call this a lumbar strain and sprain. Repeated lumbar strain and sprain injuries take their toll on discs. Each episode causes microscopic tearing and over time, multiple tiny tears begin to coalesce and form larger tears that ultimately lead to disc herniations.
Disc herniations occur when the softer material inside the disc (called the nucleus) is squeezed out through tears caused by repeated lumbar sprain and strain injuries. This nuclear material can wind up trapping nerves causing pain, numbness, and/or weakness down the leg sometimes referred to as sciatica. Sciatica caused by a pinched nerve is a more serious condition and once discs have herniated, the nuclear material can never be put back inside the disc.
Ever wonder why people shrink in height as they age? The most common reason is repeated injury to the intervertebral discs. Discs act as weight-bearing shock absorbers for the spine, and when they herniate, they lose height. This diminishes their ability to absorb forces and makes us shorter. Discs normally bear twice as much weight as the smaller lumbar facet joints, but when they herniate and loss their height more of the weight-bearing function gets shifted to the smaller lumbar facet joints causing them to undergo excessive wear and tear as well. Osteoarthritis is the body's response to excessive wear and tear. It consists of thickening of joints to compensate for weakened muscles and damaged ligaments and discs. A sedentary lifestyle leads to a weak core and a weak core sets the stage for recurrent lumbar strain and sprain injuries, disc herniations, and ultimately, chronic degenerative osteoarthritis. This is why a core routine is so vitally important! A four minute core workout on your own bed, 3-5 times per week using Kore Power Trainer can promote and maintain sufficient core strength to support the spine, prevent many lumbar strain and sprain injuries, and slow or halt this process. Think about it. Can you commit to 4 minutes of exercise every other day?