Is Core Stability The Key To Low Back Pain?

If you’ve ever searched the internet or social media for what to do to solve a bout of low back pain, you’ve undoubtedly come across tons of content that says you need to improve your core stability or core strength to solve your back pain or sciatica.

You’ll find articles or posts talking about various different types of core stability exercises, most notably “The McGill Big 3.” The Big 3 is a group of 3 exercises that include the curl-up, bird dog, and side plank/bridge, and is a staple in many lifters’ programs.

But is core stability actually the key to solving back pain?

The answer might surprise you, because it’s no!

Core stability/core strength exercises can be a useful tool when treating low back pain, but there’s nothing inherently special about them in most cases, and they aren’t required to solve back pain.

In fact, research has shown that there isn’t really any one best type of exercise when it comes to back pain. Strength training, yoga, pilates, aerobic exercise, and even walking have all been found to be very beneficial when trying to solve back pain.

That being said, we often use core stability/core strength when we work with lifters who are dealing with low back pain, but we’re not using them because we believe “core instability” is causing most episodes of back pain.

We use core stability and core strength exercises as they can be useful to build up the overall work capacity of the trunk for lifting and sports, and they are a great way to build confidence back in our backs (pun intended) when dealing with back pain.

It’s very common (and completely normal) to not trust our backs after dealing with an episode of back pain, so adding in some core stability/core strength exercises that don’t hurt can do wonders for helping us trust our backs again. Once we start building back that trust, we can progress those exercises and get back to the type of training most of us want to be doing (ya know, squats, deadlifts, cleans etc). 

If you’re dealing with low back pain or sciatica that is stopping you from being able to train the way you want to, click the button below to request a free consult with our team to see if we’re the right fit for you.


Ryan VanNieuwenhuyze

Barbell Physical Therapy & Performance

"We Help Active Adults, Lifters, And Athletes Solve Their Pain And Get Back To The Workouts And Sports They Enjoy Without Medication, Surgery, Or Stopping The Activities They Love."