What is the Core?
Core posture definition:
The "core" has been defined differently depending on the source. Most commonly, the core refers to the central part of the body between the pelvis and the rib cage. It consists of the muscles, connective tissues, and structures that provide stability, balance, and overall body strength.
Often considered the body's powerhouse, the core plays a crucial role in almost every movement we perform, whether it's during everyday activities or sports and exercise.
*Because of the interconnected nature of the body's parts, especially through the myofascial system, we think of the core as the whole body working as a unit.
Anatomy of the Core:
The core is an interconnected, complex group of muscles that synergize to support and stabilize the body. Key components of the core include:
- Rectus abdominis: Known as the "six-pack" muscle, it runs vertically down the front of the abdomen and is responsible for trunk flexion.
- Obliques (internal and external): These muscles are located on the sides of the abdomen and help with trunk rotation and lateral flexion.
- Transverse abdominis: The deepest abdominal muscle, it wraps around the torso and acts like a natural weight belt, providing stability and support to the lower back.
- Multifidi: Small, deep muscles in the back that help stabilize the spine.Erector spinae: A group of muscles running along the spine, responsible for maintaining an upright posture and extending the spine.
- Diaphragm: The primary muscle of respiration, located below the lungs, it also contributes to core stability.
- Pelvic floor muscles: This group of muscles sit at the base of the pelvis where they support the pelvic organs and contribute to core stability.
- Iliacus and psoas major (together known as iliopsoas): These two muscles are located deep in the abdomen and are primarily responsible for hip flexion. The iliacus muscle lies along the inner surface of the pelvis, while the psoas major originates from the lumbar spine. They join together near the groin area and attach to the femur (thigh bone). The iliopsoas muscles are crucial for stabilizing the lower back and pelvis, providing a strong foundation for the core and facilitating smooth, efficient movement.
Common problems related to the core:
Weak or imbalanced core muscles often lead to a wide variety of issues, including:
- Poor posture: A weak core will result in slouching or other postural problems, which may cause pain and discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and back.
- Lower back pain: Insufficient core strength puts excess strain on the lower back muscles, leading to pain and discomfort.
- Balance and stability issues: A weak core makes it challenging to maintain balance during everyday activities or sports, increasing the risk of falls and injuries.
- Decreased athletic performance: The core is essential for generating power and stability in various sports and exercises. A weak core will limit performance and increase the risk of injury.
- Incontinence: With weak pelvic floor muscles, problems such as urinary or fecal incontinence can occur, particularly in women after childbirth.