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Updated: May 31, 2023

What are core muscles?

When we think of core muscles, we only think of ‘Abs’ or abdominals. But the true fact is core muscles not only consist of your abdominal muscles but the core also includes your pelvic muscles, mid and lower back muscles, and even your hip or buttock muscles.

They work together to support your spine and bear the weight of your head. There are basically two sets of core muscles the superficial mobilizers of spine which create movement in our spine like for e.g. forward bending, turning, twisting etc. while the other set of muscles which are located deep inside are called stabilizers of spine. Deep core muscles provide stability to the spine.

Importance of Core

Think of your core as a muscular corset that holds your body together and provides stability. Most of your body movements are originated from your core like for an e.g. to lift a heavy object the power is originated from your core muscles.

Regular strengthening of your core muscles helps you to maintain a good posture. Adequate strength in your core muscles will help you to prevent the adaptation of faulty postures e.g. Sway back, hunch back/ kyphosis and hollow back / lumbar lordosis.

If someone sits unsupported for a prolonged period of time a strong core will not allow the body to go into a slouch position and maintain an erect posture.

A strong core muscles helps you to maintain balance of your body by actively shifting the center of gravity, like for an e.g. Ballerina uses her core strength to maintain her balance while she spins across the floor.

Good core strength is crucial for an athlete to generate maximal amount of force, which in turn provides power to their arms and legs. It also helps an athlete to generate good rotational movement of their trunk and to maintain their body position. Apart from athletic activities good core strength is important to maintain sustained postures like sitting in front of laptop or desktop and other activities of daily living such as standing for prolonged period, carrying weights, bending etc.

In all the dynamic and static activities the maximum amount load is taken up by your deep core muscles. To maintain a certain posture or to do a certain activity your deep core or stability group muscles should be strengthen enough otherwise the mobility or superficial core muscles will over act and go into tightness. When your prime movers or muscles of mobility go into tightness there is a mechanical imbalance in the spine, giving rise to mechanical low back pain. Some studies suggest that individuals with low back pain have greater difficulty in activating deep abdominal muscles {1}.

While working on your abdominal muscles make sure that you focus on deep core muscles rather than superficial core muscles which in turn provide stability at your spine and help you to overcome and prevent mechanical low back pain.

References –

1] O'Sullivan P, Twomey L, Allison G, Sinclair J, Miller K, Knox J. Altered patterns of abdominal muscle activation in patients with chronic low back pain. Australian journal of physiotherapy. 1997 Jan 1;43(2):91-8.

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