As a Corrective Exercise Specialist I often see a large number of problems in my clients steaming from weak or under active muscles in the region of the core. Everyone has their own definition of “The Core”, and like everyone, I do as well. My definition of the core musculature includes all of the structures that make up the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex as well as all the structures that make up shoulder/scapular stability. These muscles have been divided into the following three systems: The Local Stabilization System (all muscles that attach directly to the vertebrae IE: Transversus abdominis), The Global Stabilization System (all muscles that attach from the pelvis to the spine IE: Psoas major), and The Movement System (all muscles that attach the spine and/or pelvis to the extremities IE: Latissimus dorsi). In an effort to define the boundaries of this area I would use the landmarks of the bottom of the glutes or the gluteal folds to the top of the cervical spine. The term I use when talking about the core is “Pillar Strength”. Pillar strength is a term that Mark Verstegen of Athletes Performance Institute (API) came up with. When you think of a “Pillar” you should have a vision of a huge strong column holding up a ton of weight as beams cross over it. A stable, strong and efficient core ensures optimal static and dynamic stability. In a nut shell a strong core is the center axis from which all movement will take place; if the body was a wheel, the core would be the hub and the limbs would be spokes.
In trying to keep it short I would like to leave you with a few reasons why I feel so strongly about the core musculature:
- Low back pain relates strongly to poor glute max activation, with poor glute function causing excessive Lumbar compensation.
- Research has shown a decrease in low back pain when strengthening the deep abdominals (transverse abdominus).
- Hamstrings strains relate strongly to poor glute max activation. Think synergistic dominance. (A strong NASM principal)
- Anterior knee pain relates strongly to poor glute medius strength and or activation.
- Shoulder mobility issues and shoulder pain relate strongly to poor posterior cuff strength and scapulae stability.
And the list can go on and on. Core stability and strength CAN NEVER BE OVERLOOKED you must first have a stable and strong foundation if you what to build a house that will last. Take care of the muscles of the core and they will take care of you.