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Recent Back Injury? Early Safe Core Training

You may have read my recent blog, Back Strength: Four for the Core, regarding my top four exercises for core training.  These exercises are intended for those who have had a recent injury, but are now in the subacute stages, or they have no previous core training.

This weekend, I attended a seminar by Dr. Craig Liebenson.  Dr Liebenson wrote the book on back care. I know that’s a saying but he seriously wrote the book. One of requirements was to read a few chapters of his book Rehabilitation of the Spine: A Practitioner’s Manual, 2nd ed. Through my reading I found a table that further explained the benefits of the exercises that I give. It also adds another exercise that I often use with my patients, the alternating dog pointer.  It compares these exercises with more conventional exercises.

When you are in a subacute stage it has been recommended that loads placed on the spine above 3000 Newtons should be minimized.  So based on this criteria let’s compare the exercises.

McGill Crunch Vs Sit-ups

DrNotley - McGill Crunch

The McGill Crunch results in 2000N on the spine while the Sit up (knees bent) is 3350 N while the straight knee sit up results in 3500 N of load on the spine.    Similar muscle activity is places on the muscles. If you perform the sit up on the ball version you will be placing 4000 N of load on the spine.

Side plank on the knees vs Side plank on the feet.

DrNotley - Side Plank

I typically start most of my chiropractic patients with the side plank on the feet.  The loads placed on this exercise is 2600 N. A number of my patients are unable to perform this exercise so I make it easier by performing the side plank on the knees.  The loads placed on the spine with this exercise is 2000 N.

 Alternating Bird Dogs vs Prone superman

The alternating bird dog, when performed results in 2000N places on the spine while the prone superman exercise more than doubles the load on the spine with 4300 N. 


It is evident that when starting out a strengthening program for the core, especially when in the subacute stage or with beginners, choosing an exercise that places less load on the spine is a better choice to prevent re-aggravation of the previous injury or result in a new injury.

I hope you enjoyed this.

Dr Notley
Treating muscle and joint injuries in Winnipeg as an Athletic Therapist or Chiropractor since 2000

P.S. After this past weekend course I will be adding back into my repertoire the Dying bug which has a much greater connection to the squat that I had ever thought of before.

Originally posted on May 17, 2022 @ 4:40 pm