Understanding what constitutes core musculature and tips on how to strengthen it safely and effectively.

“Core strength”, has become part of everyday vernacular but probably with less understanding than what most people think. The phrase was most likely born out of a need to simplify the complexity of the inner workings of the muscles surrounding the spine, so crucial to us during movement.

As the word suggests, “core” refers to the trunk of the body. More specifically, it is a collective term for a further sub-division of muscles known as the pelvic floor muscles, abdominal muscles and the erector spinae muscles. Essentially, the core muscles are used to stabilise the trunk during movement such as walking, running or playing sport.

Stuart McGill, a professor of spinal biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, describes the core as, “functioning to stop movement rather than to create it”. This is a fantastic one-liner that will aid people in determining whether their so-called, “core strength training”, is achieving what it claims to be doing.

In the following video, Stuart McGill provides some understanding of core strength, its relationship to low back pain, and some suggestions on the safest and most effective way to exercise your core.

Figuratively, your core is the seatbelt for the segments of your spine. When you move, your core braces the spinal segments, holding them in safe positions. When you slip, or perform a sudden unguarded movement, your core muscles must act instantaneously or else the joints between these spinal segments suffer the perils of injury – acute sharp and debilitating pains.

Whilst your core is active all the time during movement and exercise, your desk job or increasingly sedentary lifestyle, may be causing it to become a little slow or deconditioned. For this reason, it is highly recommended to spare some time to training your core frequently.

With a well-trained core, these muscles are always at the ready, so that in the instance where your body anticipates a compromising posture or accident, your core is activated and supports your spine.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.