What is the "CORE"?
If you have ever suffered from injuries such as low back pain or just looking into improving your athletic performance, you may have heard the words “the core” or “core stability.” But what do these words even mean?
What is the core?
The core refers to more than just the rectus abdominus (your “six pack”) and obliques (those awesome side abs). The core is the entire area between your sternum and the pubic bone - acting as the connecting link between the upper and the lower body. It also acts as a natural corset to protect the vital organs and the spine. The core consists of a complex series of muscles; the deep core muscles include the pelvic floor, transverse abdominis (TA), multifidus (MF), erector spinae, and the diaphragm. These muscles are the stabilizers; they attach directly to the spine and support its movement. The rectus abdominus and obliques are the movers; they support the stabilizer muscles and work with them to move the body. These muscles work together in keeping the body stable and balanced throughout everyday static and dynamic activities such as sitting, walking, running, playing sports, carrying shopping bags, riding a bike.
What is core stability?
Core stability is the ability of the trunk to effectively absorb and transfer the forces from your limbs to allow normal function in optimal spinal alignment. It assists in the maintenance of good posture, supporting the lower back and keeping the body balanced during movement. Good core stability allows athletes to maximize performance and minimize injury. Improving core stability refers to strengthening the deep stabilizer muscles mentioned above, this is achieved by improving muscle control and strength and endurance of these muscles.
Research has shown improving core stabilization and strengthening can help improve back health, balance and overall functional fitness. Back pain sufferers generally have core muscles that are weak and tire easily and often are not able to activate the stabilizer muscle’s or have a delayed contraction.
Hodges et al. (2003) and Richardson et al. (1999) demonstrated people with a history of low back pain had timing deficits in contracting their transverse abdominis when compared with people without low back pain. This means that in people with a history of low back pain the deep core muscles activate once the movement has begun, thus placing the stress on the spine; rather than activating in anticipation of the movement.
Typical exercises that target these stabilizers muscles focus on holding the lower trunk region stable rather than performing crunches. It is important to remember that having a “6 pack” does not necessarily mean a strong core. One can perform sit-up and crunches all day long but true core strength is achieved through strengthening the stabilizers.
If you’re looking to increase your core stability and reduce your low back pain, Pilates is a great way to start the strengthening process. Our clinic runs private and small group Pilates classes through the week. As these classes are run by our physiotherapy team, payments can be claimable on your private healthfund.
Call us today on 8094 8610 if you are interested in finding out the next steps to a stronger core!