Whenever you start a new exercise program or talk about back pain, you’ve probably heard of the ‘core’ or ‘core strength’. It is a buzzword that often brings to mind pictures of six packs, however the core is so much more than a flat stomach and should be treated differently. The core and our ‘Abs’ are often used interchangeably, but it’s important to know they are different. The core isn’t just the 6-pack, but refers to the cylinder throughout your entire mid-section. It is a collective term for all the primary muscles through your centre, these include the muscles in your pelvis, hips, abdomen, and back including the pelvic floor and diaphragm. Physio’s and EP’s work towards educating people about optimising core control, strength and how to effectively use these muscles to work together to keep the body strong, stable, efficient and balanced.
Why is it so important?
If this cylinder that connects our top half to our bottom half is loose or weak, it will provide insufficient support to the trunk/ spine, posture, lower back, and can affect our stability. Conversely, an optimally strong core provides a solid support centre to help you sit, stand, and perform your everyday and sporting activities with efficiency. If the core is weak, you may be more susceptible to injury, from something as simple as picking up your groceries. Certain conditions such as chronic low back pain can result in poor motor control, reduced strength and endurance about many of these core muscles. Some people with chronic back pain have learned to overly brace and contract their trunk muscles to protect and need to retrain their core towards normal functioning (it’s not always just about strength!)
How do I strengthen my core?
You may here us say “activate/engage your core” during an exercise and this can be quite difficult for someone just starting out this type of movement. But the truth is we subconsciously use our core in most daily activities from getting out of bed to swinging a golf club. Regardless of what movement you are performing it will either start or move through your core at some stage.
The best type of exercise will vary from person to person and their specific circumstances, but it is important to target all aspects of the cylinder, not just the 6 pack muscles! We generally get our clients to activate their core starting with gentle movements and always go on to increase these exercises to more loaded functional exercises such as squats, bridges, deadlifts, etc.
Here at Singleton Physiotherapy we are very lucky to have access to the Getback Devices which can perform a thorough assessment of core strength and mobility. This assessment can then allow our EP or physio’s to provide you with a tailored exercise program specific to you. Contact the clinic to book your FREE introductory information session.