Updated: Sep 3, 2021
Reasons to why you should give a little extra care to this middle section of yours.
We all hear it quite often being tossed around “work more on your core”, “your core is weak” “your back pain will go away if you strengthen your core…”, etc. We all know it, but we don’t always tend to prioritise it as much as we should..
Why is your core strength so important? Why does it deserve so much of your attention?
It’s important to understand that this glorious core of yours, is the BASE FOUNDATION of your body’s whole support system which includes the muscles in your pelvis, hips, abdomen, and low back. It links your upper and lower halves to stabilise the chain in order to move efficiently and evenly distribute the load across the body when in motion.
BACK IN THE DAYS…
The origins of core stability came forward around the early 1990’s when a researcher named Panjabi first defined the concept of the neutral zone referring to it as “A region of intervertebral motion around the neutral posture where little resistance is offered by the passive spinal column”. Panjabi implied that a smaller neutral zone meant that a joint is more stable and that the three main contributors to spinal stability is:
1) Active subsystem: Spinal muscles
2) Passive subsystem: Spinal column
3) Control subsystem: Neural
Your body relies on your core at all times, from day-to-day tasks like cleaning and playing with your kids, to heavy weight- lifting in the gym. A strong core protects your back muscles, thereby also lowering the likelihood of injuries. And as these muscles are crucial for transferring energy from larger to smaller body parts, you can probably imagine how much of a role they play in sport performance? A great deal I tell you. Marcell Jacobs wouldn’t be the fastest man in the world today if he didn’t have a strong core. Holy smokes!
Did you know that most tasks (including lifting up to approx. 30kg) require 4- 8% of core muscle maximal voluntary contraction for adequate spinal stability? This level of muscle activation can be generated naturally and reflexively without bracing unless you have a spinal cord injury or other neurological condition.
THE BENEFITS OF A STRONG CORE ARE MANY, SOME BEING:
• Enhanced movement quality
• Improved posture
• Low back pain prevention and reduction
• Improved stability and overall body strength
• Better coordination of movements between upper and lower body
• Aids to prevent falls and injuries
• Enhanced performance
• Helps to manage daily chores and maintain independence as we age
When you practice core exercises, you also stimulate an area in your brain called cerebellum, which affects to improve your coordination, spatial awareness, and balance. So, these exercises are not only a powerful workout for your body, but also for your brain.
WHAT MUSCLES MAKES UP THE CORE?
Now we are getting to the best part. Below list outlines them all, both deep and superficial muscles of the core.
• Transversus abdominis (deepest layer, wraps around your spine like a corset).
• Pelvic floor (supports your pelvic organs).
• Diaphragm (controls your intra-abdominal pressure when you’re breathing).
• Rectus abdominis (your ‘six- pack’… the REAL reason why we all want those abs right?).
• Internal and external obliques (allows you to turn and twist your trunk).
• Multifidus (deep back muscle, runs along your spine).
• Quadratus Lumborum (stabilise pelvis).
• Erector Spinae (large back muscles that allow you to stand upright).
• Gluteal muscles (your actual powerhouse! Do not forget how supportive their role is for stability).
So now when you are more knowledgeable on the topic… make sure you polish up your activation routine next time you exercise in the gym (or at home) and include core exercises on a regular basis, suggestively 3-5 times per week to optimise results.
B E. G O O D. T O. Y O U R. S P I N E.
It is devoted to carry you throughout your whole life. Make sure you devote some time to take care of it too.
If you wish to know more or looking for further assistance to implement a core program specific to your needs, please contact our clinic and one of our Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist will be happy to help you. Our clinic also offers weekly Pilates classes, which, extensive research has supported being the No.1 exercise technique to increase core strength and in managing low back pain.
Written by Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Therese Sioestroem