What do we really mean by your “core”?

You’ve probably heard people talking about “core strength” and “core stability”, but what really is it and what do we mean by these phrases?

Many think that when we refer to the “core muscles” we are referring to the abdominals, however this isn’t all, and there is much more to your core than just having abs. The core refers to all of the muscles around your torso which are used to support the pelvis and spine, including:

  • Gluteal muscles
  • Adductor muscles
  • Lower back muscles
  • Abdominal muscles
  • Hip flexors (Including the pelvic floor)
  • Spinal erectors
  • Diaphragm

Despite sounding similar, core strength and core stability are two different things. Core strength is the force used to produce a movement (such as a sit up or back extension), whereas core stability is when the musculature of your core tightens to maintain posture and prevent unwanted motion. Both core strength and core stability aren’t just important for sports people.  It has been suggested that core stability improves pelvic and spinal stabilisation, which can reduce injury risk. Being able to maintain posture significantly reduces the risk of symptomatic alignment discrepancies- one of the most common presentations to physiotherapy and sports therapy clinics.

There are plenty of exercises which you can do at home which will improve your core stability, including the following

Hip bridge/glute bridge

Laying on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips up off the ground to form a straight line between your knees hips and shoulders. Hold for up to 10 seconds and slowly relax back down.

Mountain climbers

Start in a press-up position with your hands shoulder width apart directly under your shoulders. Pull your right knee towards your left shoulder without letting it touch the floor and return to the start position. Repeat with your left leg. Complete as quickly as you can whilst keeping your core engaged and maintaining control.

The plank

Lay on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders and hands on the floor. Keeping your forearms still, engage your core and raise yourself up to form a straight line from your knees to your head. Hold for as long as you can.

Quadruped arm/leg raise

Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders, and knees directly under your hips. Keeping your core engaged raise one arm and the opposite leg away from you, hold for 5 seconds before returning to the starting position. Complete on the other side

These exercises are just examples of what you can do to help improve your core stability and are not designed to replace full medical diagnosis and treatment.  For appointments and personalised treatment plans contact us.

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