Updated: Feb 10, 2019
The core of anything defined as the most important or essential part of something. Talking about the human body the term core or core-box refers to the muscles surrounding the hips, pelvis, and lower back, more specifically, the lumbopelvic region of the body (O’Connor et al. 2012). Its function is crucial to provide the foundation for the movements of the upper and lower extremities. Panjabi defined core stability as “the capacity of the stabilising system to maintain the intervertebral neutral area within physiological limits” (Panjabi 1992). Whilst, Tsatsouline underlines how “without the stable platform provided by the core muscle we are just shooting a cannon from a canoe” (Tsatsouline 2010).
The core’s main muscles are:
Rectus Abdomins – better known as the six-pack muscle. It runs from the ribs to the pelvis and is responsible for trunk flexion (e.g. crunches). It also provides stability to the spine and pelvis when it works with the other core muscles.
Multifidus – a group of muscles that runs between the vertebra in the spine, providing extension and rotation to each spinal segment.
Transverse Abdominis – the deepest muscle layer of the abdominals. It’s a belt or brace that runs horizontally attaching itself to the spine, giving a narrow or slim appearance to the waist. It ’s considered to be one of the most important muscles in spinal stabilisation.
Internal and External Obliques – these muscles run obliquely from the pelvis to the spine and are most effective in trunk’s rotation.
Gluteus maximus, medius and minimus – the hip’s muscles that support and stabilise the hips and the spine.
Pelvic floor muscles – the muscles that run from the pubic bones on the front to the tail bones on the back. They provide support for the organs in the pelvis.
Diaphragm – The main muscle for breathing. It separates the thoracic cavity from the abdomen. Its insertions are to the xiphoid process along the costal margin, laterally goes into the ribs (6 – 12) and in the back the muscle’s fibres insert into the vertebra at T12 and in the lumbar vertebrae at L1 and L2. It is the roof of the core box.
To sum up, the core stability maintains a neutral pelvic position while protects the lumbar spine’s section (Stanton et al. 2004). Furthermore, the core musculature is believed to play an integral role in the process of transferring energy from the trunk to the extremities (Nikolenko et al. 2011). Weak core musculature, paired with strong extremity musculature, could lead to fatigue and insufficient force’s generation that may be detrimental to many aspects of sports performance (Nikolenko et al. 2011). Therefore, a weak core, especially in older adults, could cause a fall accident as proven by many scientific studies (Kwon-Young 2015).
Luckily many researchers and fitness instructors had worked out a considerable number of exercises extremely efficient in improving core muscles strenght. A short table of some of these exercises is reported in Table 1
Then, are you ready to start?
Ask your coach to teach you one of these exercises and start to build up your core!
O’Connor, A., George, J. W., Thompson, P. A., Nelson, D. M., Skaggs, C., Gross, G., Kumagai, K. A. S., Petrofsky, J. S., Kolar, P., Kobesova, A., Al-Nakhli, H. H., Adamiak-Pellow, K., Craig, J., Quinn, A., Lewit, K., Kolář, P., Vacek, J., Hornáček, K., Bitnar, P. and Maryška, J., 2012. The Stabilizing System of the Spine and Comprehensive Modern Approaches to Back Pain. International Musculoskeletal Medicine,34 (2), 42-54 13p.
Panjabi, M. M., 1992. The stabilizing system of the spine: Part I. function, dysfunction, adaptation, and enhancement. Journal of Spinal Disorders,5 (4), 383-389.
Tsatsouline, P., 2010. SECRETS OF THE SOVIETS. Men’s Fitness,26 (5), 129-133.
Stanton, R., Reaburn, P. R. and Humphries, B., 2004. THE EFFECT OF SHORT-TERM SWISS BALL TRAINING ON CORE STABILITY AND RUNNING ECONOMY. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (Allen Press Publishing Services Inc.),18 (3), 522-528.
Nikolenko, M., Brown, L. E., Coburn, J. W., Spiering, B. A. and Tran, T. T., 2011. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CORE POWER AND MEASURES OF SPORT PERFORMANCE. / POVEZANOST IZMEĐU SNAGE TRUPA I POKAZATELJA SPORTSKE USPJEŠNOSTI. Kinesiology,43 (2), 163-168.
Kwon-Young, K., 2015. Effects of core muscle stability training on the weight distribution and stability of the elderly. J Phys Ther Sci,27 (10), 3163-3165 3163p.
Martuscello, J. M., Nuzzo, J. L., Ashley, C. D., Campbell, B. I., Orriola, J. J. and Mayer, J. M., 2013. Systematic Review of Core Muscle Activity During Physical Fitness Exercises. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins),27 (6), 1684-1698.