The core plays a fundamental role in providing stability, balance and strength to support our everyday movements. Core stability refers to keeping the muscles that make up the torso strong and stable so that our spine and extremities can function optimally and safely.
What Is the Core?
When we refer to the “core,” we are not just referring to the superficial abdominal muscles (6-pack abs) but rather a complex network of muscles located in the torso.
The core includes:
- Deep abdominal muscles
- Back muscles
- Glute muscles
- Pelvic floor muscles
This intricate system collaboratively works to provide support, power, and functional stability to the spine, pelvis, and surrounding structures.
3 Major Roles of the Core
Spine Support and Function
The core muscles help support the spine by aiding in keeping the torso upright and preventing excessive movement or compression in the joints that make up the spine. A strong and stable core helps distribute loads effectively, which can improve overall spinal health and reduce the occurrence of back pain or stiffness.
Balance and Coordination
Core stability is vital for maintaining balance and coordination in both static and dynamic movements. It can improve efficient movement patterns within the body to help with sports, fitness activities, and even daily tasks such as walking or climbing stairs.
Stability and Posture
A strong core provides a stable foundation for the rest of the body, allowing us to maintain postures during everyday activities and exercises.
Why Is Core Stability Important?
Core stability can impact our ability to perform daily tasks efficiently. It improves overall muscular functioning and helps with stability and strength in movements such as lifting, bending, and twisting. A stable core can help enable an active and independent lifestyle.
Rehabilitation and Pain Management
Core stability exercises are often incorporated into rehabilitation programs for individuals with back injuries or chronic back pain. Studies have shown core stability exercises to be effective in reducing pain and improving functional outcomes for individuals with low back pain.
Underactive or weak core muscles can lead to imbalances, compensatory movements and patterns, and increased stress on surrounding structures such as the low back, hips, shoulders etc. Think of a strong core as a protective shield, reducing the risk of injuries and promoting better body mechanics.
Enhanced Athletic Performance
Many sports and activities rely on the effective generation and transfer of forces between regions of the body. Training core stability can improve power, balance, strength, and performance in athletes.
To learn more about developing core stability, visit the second post in this series, Five Exercises to Build a Strong and Stable Core, and talk to your chiropractor about how they can help.
Granacher, U., Muehlbauer, T., Gollhofer, A., & Kressig, R. W. (2022). Effects of core stability training on balance, muscular strength, and functional mobility in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 19(1), 1-19. doi: 10.1186/s11556-022-00289-x.
Sarabon, N., & Rogelj, M. (2022). Effects of core stability exercises on trunk muscle strength and fall incidence in middle-aged and older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 19(1), 1-15. doi: 10.1186/s11556-022-00288-y.
Coulombe BJ, Games KE, Neil ER, Eberman LE. Core Stability Exercise Versus General Exercise for Chronic Low Back Pain. J Athl Train. 2017 Jan;52(1):71-72. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-51.11.16. Epub 2016 Nov 16. PMID: 27849389; PMCID: PMC5293521
Beomryong Kim, Jongeun Yim, Core Stability and Hip Exercises Improve Physical Function and Activity in Patients with Non-Specific Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial, The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2020, Volume 251, Issue 3, Pages 193-206, Released on J-STAGE July 14, 2020, Online ISSN 1349-3329, Print ISSN 0040-8727, https://doi.org/10.1620/tjem.251.193, https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/tjem/251/3/251_193/_article/-char/en