An important term that we believe is commonly misconceived, is the “Core”. Many people believe that the core is made up of rectus abdominis (your 6 pack muscle) and when told to “engage your core” brace and lock through their upper tummy. Many core exercises focus solely on strengthening rectus abdominis, such as sit ups, crunches and planks. Whist this MAY set you on your way to a 6 pack of abs, your core is much more complex than that.
What makes up your core?
Your core is made up of two layers, the inner layer for support and the outer layer for strength. Your inner core is made up of your diaphragm (breathing muscle), multifidus (small stabilising back muscles), transverse abdominis (acting like a corset) and your pelvic floor. These four muscles work together to provide stability to your internal organs as well as your back, pelvis and more. You can think of your inner core as the foundation of a house. Without laying down the foundation, the walls and structure will eventually crumble. This brings us to the outer layer of your core. Also known as the strength core, this layer is made up of latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, obliques, rectus abdominus, quadratus lumborum, gluteals and the thoraco-lumbar fascia. These muscles are kicked in when a larger force is required for a movement, facilitating the transfer of energy from the legs to the trunk then to the arms.
As mentioned above, when people try to active their core they often brace through their upper tummy. This increases the intra-abdominal pressure and acts like a coffee plunger, pushing down on the pelvic floor. This weakens the pelvic floor and results in weakening of your core and stability. In addition, a weak pelvic floor can result in issues such as incontinence. Having a strong core is essential in stabilising and protecting your lumbar spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle especially when exposed to high loads. In turn helping to prevent injuries when bending forward, side to side or rotating excessively.
Our clinical rehabilitation classes are focused on strengthening the deep core stabilisers and engaging them whilst performing exercises and movements. We often work in neutral positions, where all the forces and weight are distributed evenly through the body. In this neutral position, we should be able to jump on your shoulders with no problems! We also put a large focus on functional strength and stability, optimising muscle activation and helping to reduce your risk of injury. It is safe for all ages and fitness levels and is also a great form of antenatal exercise. To learn more about our clinical rehabilitation classes click here and to see our class times click here. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any queries!