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Peak Physical Therapy
Helping you every step of the way


The staff at Peak Physical Therapy would like to extend a warm welcome to Dr. S. Anna Nsisi to the Peak Health Centre building! She is a family physician setting up her office in the space once used by Dr.Vincent. Her office hours and phone number are still pending. She will be accepting appointments soon.  

Check this out! We have added some new features to our website including:

A new sports category with the following sections:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Figure Skating
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Running

Click here to view our new sports section and stay tuned for more sports to be added to this section in the coming months.

2.  A new interactive body map.  If you are looking for information on common conditions, you can vist our website to find high quality articles on our new body map.  Click here to see it.

Protect Your Back: Strengthen Your Core

Although it is unnoticeable, nearly every activity we do from walking, bicycling or playing basketball to cleaning the house or working in the garden involves the muscles surrounding the spine plus abdominal muscles.  These are often referred to as the core stabilizer muscles.  This important group of muscles forms the foundation for movement throughout the body and affects balance and stability.  Strengthening the core stabilizer muscles can help prevent back injury [1].

There are several factors that increase a person’s risk of injuring their back including poor spine biomechanics, defined as movement of the spine, heavy lifting, repetitive movement, spending extended periods of time in a static position and having an awkward posture [2].  For some professionals, such as firefighters, truck drivers and factory workers, the factors that put a person at great risk for a back injury are unavoidable.  These workers are aware of the hazards associated with their profession.  However, unfortunately, most people do not recognize the potential for injury in their regular day to day activities.  For example, vacuuming has been recognized by many physicians to be one of the most physically demanding household chores, since 10 minutes of vacuuming is comparable to walking for 30 minutes [3], but it is something most of us do at least once a week.  The repeated bending and stretching involved in vacuuming can injure weak back muscles.  These injuries often go unnoticed until the pain becomes intense.

Some back injuries can result from no movement, such as sitting.  The chances of developing lower back pain increases when sitting for extended periods of time.  The damage is even worse when the sitting is in combination with major vibration, such as with a helicopter pilot or a truck driver.  Extensive sitting with bad posture, such as slouched or excessively arched, can also be highly damaging [4].  This happens because the core muscles are being continually contracted, which actually serves to weaken the muscles.  This in turn can affect overall coordination and balance because the core stabilizing muscles are weak and cannot support the body properly.

There are several measures that can decrease the potential of back pain and/or injury. Maintaining good posture and avoiding fixed postures can reduce stress on the core muscles.  Avoiding repetitive movements and learning proper body biomechanics for lifting objects can also decrease stress on the core muscles.  Taking these measures, in combination with strengthening your core muscles (primarily the lower back and abdominal muscles), can help prevent back injuries or manage pain from existing injuries [5].  It is best to see a physical therapist to learn how to improve posture, lifting or other risky activities to avoid a back injury.  

There are numerous exercises to increase core strength though, and while most are fairly easy it is important that you learn how to do them correctly to avoid causing or worsening injuries.  At Peak Physical Therapy, we can teach you how to perform core strength exercises safely and how to improve posture.  If you have an existing back injury or pain it is especially important to work with a trained therapist to make a full recovery.  Popular core strengthening exercises include several yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and stability and balance exercises, among others.  While these are all good, over the last few decades, physical therapists have designed a variety of core strengthening exercises to prevent and manage lower back pain.  A few of these exercises utilize exercise balls that also increase core stability, leading to better balance and coordination [6].  It is important that stabilization exercises are performed with the assistance of a physical therapist that will ensure that the exercises are performed correctly [7].  This maximizes the benefit and prevents pain from incorrectly doing the exercise [7].

The exercises previously described work to increase core strength and stability because they require the use of a variety of muscles, not just one muscle or muscle group.  For example, when doing crunches on an exercise ball, this trains abdominal muscles plus all the other muscles helping you stay on the ball, including the muscles that support your spine and lower back.  They are all getting stronger at the same time, and they are learning how to better work together.

If you do not exercise regularly, it is best to start slow and work with your physical therapist to design a core strengthening program that allows you to gradually build your strength.  Many of the exercises that use your core stabilizer muscles are well-suited to beginners and can be modified as your endurance and stability increases.  Athletes or those who are more physically fit may choose to incorporate core strengthening exercise routines like yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi or others into their existing training programs.  Alternatively they can modify their regular routines to focus more on core stability exercises.

Remember, though, that whatever your skill or activity level, you risk injuring yourself if these exercises are not performed properly, so you should always consult a trained physical therapist who can help you choose exercises tailored to your abilities and needs.  Call Peak Physical Therapy to learn more about how we can help you.

Bottom line:  If your core is strong, then the rest of your body will be stronger.  You will see the benefits in your posture, coordination and the prevention or management of back injuries.  Protect your back by strengthening your core!


1. Peate, W.F., et al., Core strength: a new model for injury prediction and prevention. J Occup Med Toxicol, 2007. 2(3).

2. Pope, M.H., K.L. Goh, and M.L. Magnusson, Spine ergonomics. Annu Rev Biomed Eng, 2002. 4: p. 49-68.

3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity. Updated July 15, 2008. Accessed September 30, 2009.

4. Lis, A.M., et al., Association between sitting and occupational LBP. Eur Spine J, 2007. 16(2): p. 283-98.

5. Nadler, S.F., et al., Hip muscle imbalance and low back pain in athletes: influence of core strengthening. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2002. 34(1): p. 9-16.

6. Marshall, P.W. and B.A. Murphy, Core stability exercises on and off a Swiss ball. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 2005. 86(2): p. 242-9.

7. McGill, S.M. and A. Karpowicz, Exercises for spine stabilization: motion/motor patterns, stability progressions, and clinical technique. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 2009. 90(1): p. 118-26.

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