Most people are surprised to hear that being strong in some core muscles and weak in others is worse for your back and neck than being weak everywhere. Why?

Let’s start with a few analogies. Think about a suspension bridge or bicycle wheel. Each relies on equal amounts of tension and strength in the cables or spokes for the entire structure to be supported and stay intact. If any of those spokes or cables becomes weak, the other spokes or cables will be required to support more load. This may work for a while but, eventually, that wheel or bridge will break down and collapse.

bridge span in the fogThe same is true for your spine which, for the purposes of this analogy, is the bridge or center of the wheel with the muscles of your core being the spokes or cables.

All of the muscles that support your spine, namely those that make up the core and buttocks, need to have nearly equal strength, tone and endurance to work together as a unit and effectively support and protect the spine. If one of those muscle groups isn’t as strong as the rest, the other muscle groups must bear an extra load. This immediately causes muscle spasms and tightness in healthy muscles now under extra strain which, in turn, causes pain.

This can be very confusing to sufferers because it’s often the uninjured muscles that hurt. The long term consequences are much worse. After years of this asymmetrical stress and strain, more serious conditions such as disc bulges, disc hernations, bone spurs and more will develop. I can’t tell you how many patients I saw in my clinic who had very strong abs and weak lateral core muscles (those on the side). Often those strong abs caused more load to be put through the spine than if all the core muscles equally weak.


The purpose of BACKFOREVER‘s Daily Routines is to rebuild and re-balance the muscles in your core and buttocks while training you to move in healthy ways. You’ll note that the exercises in the Daily Routines target all sides of your core, front back and left and right, because our goal is to build strength equally.

Change comes with commitment.

These routines are extremely effective if you do them as directed. They are your first step in getting your life back and returning to the activities you love.

Dr. Jeremy James

Dr. Jeremy James founded and was director of the Aspen Club Back Institute in Aspen, Colorado, is the coauthor of the bestselling The Younger Next Year Back Book and earned his Doctor of Chiropractic from the University of Western States. Learn more about Dr. James here.