We often hear about the importance of strong core muscles. But what are they really, what do they do, and how do they help support everyday activities and benefit spinal health?
The core is made of numerous muscles that combine to brace the trunk and provide strength and motion. They act as a physical foundation and stabilising force from which all movement can safely occur. Imagine if the footing of your home was faulty — the walls would crack, the doors would jam, and the roof might cave in. In the body, an imbalanced core can trigger strain on joints, tissues and bones, and increase pain, dysfunction and spinal injury.
The rectus abdominus, transversus abdominus and obliques, which together connect the lower rib cage to the pelvis, form the abdominal component. The paraspinal and gluteal muscles sit at the back and support the spine, pelvis and hips. The diaphragm forms the roof, and the pelvic floor forms, well, the floor. Together, these act as a powerhouse of sturdiness, allowing controlled, fluid movement and efficient energy use so your body can work well.
By acting as a corset, the core allows us to bend, lift, and reach without falling down like a deck of cards. Any physical activities you do — from standing, walking, housework, participating in sport, to maintaining an ideal posture — all rely on a strong, healthy core. That’s why we struggle when our core is weak.
Often people who consult with a chiropractor have diminished core performance. Targeted regular exercises and activities such as yoga and Pilates help to improve core function. Ask your chiropractor which exercises are the most beneficial for you.
This article first appeared in the May/June edition of ‘Your Chiropractor’. To read more, download the newsletter linked in the May update.