“Pull in your core!” “Use your core muscles!” “This one’s for your core”
Words and phrases you may have heard if you have ever been to a gym class, had a personal trainer or been to your physio for injury management….but what does that mean? And what muscles comprise your “core?”
Your core stabilisers are made up up of 3 main muscles groups – your Transverse Abdominals (Deep Abs); your Pelvic Floor (a sling from your pubic bone to tail), and Multifidus, (small segmental muscles lining your spine). Collectively these 3 groups support and stabilise your spine and pelvis to protect from excessive movement and loading helping balance, stability and posture. Think of them like scaffolding supporting an important building – i.e you!
The core muscles are the basis of support for the whole body, surrounding and supporting the spine and connecting the upper and lower body, allowing us to remain upright. They train the muscles in the lower part of your body, the hips, pelvis, low back and abdomen to work together seamlessly leading to better balance and stability. They are important even when sitting at a desk but are critical when moving.
Whilst strong core muscles make it easier to do almost any activity, it is very important to athletes. Having a strong core helps prevent against low back pain in particular but a weak core is potentially a high risk factor for other injuries such as shoulders, knees and hips. Often exercise programs will call for a core strengthening program first of all and at Sydney Physio Solutions we often use these exercises or Pilates in strengthening and rehab.
These muscles are not the glory makers like your thighs or glutes…they are slow burners working at a low level in the background, so when activated prior to movement they ensure your movement is smooth, steady and controlled.
Learning to fire these muscles correctly to help your posture, balance and stability takes practice. If you are unsure of the correct technique, chat to your physio – they can look at you on real time ultrasound and give you accurate, objective and real time feedback. At Sydney Physio Solutions we use this method to teach core strengthening and a better quality of life through improvements to posture, balance and stability.