“When should I start doing sit ups” – Poor core stability and low back pain may not be related…

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Core stability – refers to the training and strengthening of abdominal muscles. It is the central message of Pilates and is commonly adopted in the fitness industry. However, this concept is gradually being revised with recent advances in technology and research.


Emerging evidence suggests:

  • Weak abdominal muscles will not lead to lower back pain

  • Tensing / strengthening the abdominals muscles is unlikely to prevent the occurrence of lower back pain or reduce the recurrence of lower back pain

  • Core stability exercises are no better than other forms of exercises in reducing chronic lower back pain. Any therapeutic influence is related to the exercise effects rather than stability issues

Continuous tensing of the abdominal muscles could be a source of potential pain to the spine. When the muscles contract, they result in an increase in intra-abdominal pressure and compressive force on the lumbar spine, both of which can lead to the occurrence of lower back pain or an exacerbation of existing low back pain.


A subgroup of people within the chronic low back pain classification will achieve a positive outcome with the core stability exercises. Experienced physiotherapists will be able to identify this group of people and tailor the exercises according to the individual needs through expert assessment. Please consult our physiotherapists before embarking on any core strengthening program.