The Importance of Core Stability
Not only is core stability and strength necessary for pain relief, but it’s also essential for injury prevention. The body’s core muscles are composed of:
- Erector Spinae- a group of three muscles that runs along the neck and lower back which function to straighten and rotate the back.
- Multifidus- runs along the vertebral column under the erector spinae to help to erect and rotate the spine.
- Transverse Abdominis- the deepest layer of abdominal muscle which wraps around the torso from front to back and from the ribs to the pelvis, and provides protection for the spine.
- Abdominis- commonly referred to as the “six pack” muscle group.
- External and Internal Obliques- the external obliques are located on the side and front of the abdomen and the internal obliques are located directly below in the opposite direction.
- Hip Flexors- a group of muscles that act to flex the femur onto the lumbo-pelvic complex.
- Gluteus Medius, Minimus and Maximus- the buttocks and upper hamstring area are composed of these muscles.
- Hip Adductors- located at the medial or inner thigh.
These muscles encircle and support the spine making them the most important muscles in spinal stabilization. The strengthening of functional muscle groups such as the core muscles lead to improved neuromuscular education and improved lumbar spine support.
“In a healthy spine there is activation of deep core muscles in stabilization of the trunk before the body moves. This interaction between the deep core muscles and the nervous system plays a role in the proprioceptive feedback sent to the brain as we perform activities and undergo our normal activities.”
According to Michelle Schwhan, PT.
From rehab to sports and fitness training, the importance of core stability is apparent. A strong core leads to the improvement of everyday life, injury prevention, chronic back pain reduction, and enhanced sports performance. Growing popularity and proven results have introduced core strengthening exercises into all types of training programs from the rehab clinic to the Pilates studio.
A strong core provides stability and balance to the body which allows for the transfer of powerful movements to the extremities. Power generates from the center outward to the limbs, the greater the stability of the center or core, the more powerful the muscles of the arms and legs can contract. A solid core additionally corrects posture, which can reduce strain on the spine and eliminate the potential of injury due to postural imbalances. For an athlete seeking to develop explosive speed and power, an effective core strengthening program is fundamental.
A comprehensive core strengthening program can be set up by a Pilates’ instructor or personal trainer; however, it can be beneficial to see your physician to recommend a specific program or recommend physical therapy to develop an appropriate treatment plan to improve core strengthening and stability.
The author of this article is Lorin Schaechterle, MPT, the Center Manager at NovaCare – Loop Clinic.