In the past, people were obsessed with having the so-called “6-Pack”. Nowadays, the “Core” and/or “Core Strength/Stability” concept has taken over the fitness industry. You may have heard your personal trainer use this buzzword during training “let’s work your core” or “activate your core”, but what exactly does this mean?
Core Stability is not the strength of the abdominals or back muscles but the results from the optimal intra-abdominal pressure regulation. This internal pressure is essential for establishing proper posture and helps put the muscles and joints in maximal congruence, enabling the joint to generate maximal power and be maximally loaded without the risk of injury. We will be discussing the main muscle groups that are important for the core and some basic exercises to enhance your core strength/stability.
The Big 5
- Rectus Abdominis: Notably nicknamed the abs, their function is to enable flexion of the lumbar spine.
- Transverse Abdominis: Is the sheath of muscle within the abdominal wall that has a main function of maintaining the intra-abdominal pressure.
- Obliques: There are two layers of this muscle, the Internal and the External Oblique. They work in tandem to produce various movements such as flexion, rotation and lateral flexion of the lumbar spine.
- Multifidus: Is a very deep back muscle, which plays an important role in the stabilization of the spine.
- Erector Spinae: Are also deep back muscles, and this muscle groups main action is to extend the lumbar spine.
*Additionally the diaphragm and the muscles of the pelvic floor are very important in terms of gaining greater core strength and stability.
Basic Core Exercises
It is important to recruit both the Transverse Abdominis and the Pelvic Floor muscles in each exercise. To do this draw your belly button in towards your spine and pull the pelvic floor muscles up towards the diaphragm.