Confusion to the Core!

The word core is commonly misinterpreted, particularly when it comes to performing ‘core’ exercises. While there are specific exercises aimed to isolate core muscles, essentially your core muscles are active in ALL movements of the body. If your aim is to gain a stronger core (…and we know that it is!) then being aware of how these muscles are best engaged is a must.

Let’s get the boring (but necessary) stuff out of the way with a brief anatomy lesson. The core muscles consist of the:

  • Transversus abdominis: visually consider this to be similar to a corset wrapping around the trunk. It is deep to the ‘6 pack’ rectus abdominis, and obliques;
  • Multifidus: We have many multidifi which are back muscles, they provide segmental control - that is they attach across one to two vertebrae.
  • Pelvic floor: This consists of a group of muscles that lay horizontally in the pelvic cavity.

What makes the core muscles different to other muscle groups? This group of muscles serve to compress the abdominal cavity, and support and protect the spine.

Consider this difference – core muscles maintain a low level of tone (recruitment) throughout the day to provide compression and support. This is unlike other muscles that serve to produce more global movements, such as the biceps which turn on to pick up an object and turn off when replacing it.

When the core is not doing its job very well, the compensation tends to appear elsewhere. Often the more global movers will try to take on the load and this can result in pain, restriction and tautness in the muscle and that region of the body, or a compensation further down the kinetic chain.

Simple steps to get you started:

Transversus abdominis: Draw the belly into the spine, by trying to be “skinny’ you will use this muscle. You'll also find that your posture naturally corrects itself as you lengthen the spine. It’s simply a gentle drawing in.  No breath holding! Try to time it with the exhale.

Pelvic floor: Imagine that you trying to stop urine flowing midflow and at the same time trying to stop yourself from passing wind (… there’s not really a more graceful way of explaining the fundamentals). Again, time it with the exhale.

It's important to note, that often when we perform so called core exercises such as sit-ups or planks, we can very easily not be recruiting our core muscles very well unless we bring attention to them.  

It doesn’t matter if you remember all the latin lingo or not! But the rundown is that you have a group of core muscles that serve to protect a pretty important part of your body. By training these muscles well, you will prevent injury and be more powerful in sporting and other activities.

Posted by Alana