When people are told they need to strengthen their core muscles, often their minds thinks of sit-ups in large quantities. What most people don’t realise is the effectiveness of simply carrying a load or weight in terms of stabilising and strengthening the core muscles.
There are many common activities, such as shopping, that require us to carry a load for a period of time. The way in which this is done can affect the amount of load going through the spine. You see, when you hold a load on one side and not on the other (or even when the load is substantially heavier on one side compared to the other) your core has to work harder to stop you from leaning towards the load.
The main muscle that does this is called the quadratus lumborun which connects the ribs to the pelvis. This muscle creates what is called lateral stability or simply side to side stability. Not too many exercises effectively strengthen this muscle compared to simply carrying a load. In fact, the most common core exercises only assist us in staying strong during forward bending movements. The problem with this is that life is full of complex movements involving not just forward bending but side bending and twisting motions.
Carrying a load on one side may seem basic, however it does place significant loads on the muscles and therefore on the back. By leveling out the weight carried so that it is equal on both sides we can reduce this load while still strengthening the muscles. If you do have a history of lower back pain, it is worth adjusting the way you carry items to try and reduce the stress associated with carrying uneven loads. So when thinking of your core, think about carrying while maintaining good posture.