What is my ‘core’?

Core canYou often here the word ‘core’ thrown around at the gym, after childbirth and when you’ve experienced an injury and we all interpret what our core is very differently. Some think it’s just your abs, some would think about pelvic floor but we all know that our core is important for longevity of our spinal health and strength.

I try to keep it simple when explaining what your core is to my clients. It’s like a slinky or cylinder made up of four deep muscles (there are more muscles on top that contribute but I like to explain about the deep ones that help stabilise the spine). We have our

  • Diaphragm on the top of our cylinder,
  • Pelvic floor on the base of our cylinder,
  • Our transverse abdominus wrapping around the front and
  • Our multifidis laced between our spine. These are muscles are difficult to feel on the outside because there are a number of other muscles layered over the top but all very important in making a strong cylinder / foundation for our limbs to move from.

Most of us are really good at engaging the big global muscles on top of our core muscles because it’s much easier to ‘feel’ them but our global muscles are built for big movements like sit ups and lifting. They have the time frame of a sprinter – great for big movements over a short time. Our core muscles are the endurance runners or postural muscles – they’re built for small movements over a longer time, like simply holding your spine together while you sit. Learning to engage your core muscles means you learn how to activate postural muscles that will lead to better posture and less overuse of your global muscles which can cause pain.

So the next time you have a neck or back ache and feel tense global muscles like your upper traps or quadratus lumborum then chances are you core isn’t helping you out and needs some guidance on how to come to the party!

For a few easy tips on how engage your core – check out this short video. If you’d like your core assessed or would like to learn some exercises to engage your core call 9674 5596 to book in for an assessment or Pilates class.

Deb Chen, Physiotherapist