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What is the key to unlocking your “core”?

It’s the latest catch phrase. Everything you read about running, being an athlete, preventing low back pain, recovering from injuries, is about using your “Core”. So what IS your core, anyways?

The “core” specifically refers to the set of muscles that provide your body with postural control and a balanced center. It’s where everything begins. If you can imagine having a crane with a wrecking ball on the end of it… it wouldn’t work very well if the base wasn’t sufficiently strong to then swing the arm. The “core” is very much the same. You must have adequate strength in your core muscles to be able to use the rest of your body effectively and efficiently. This applies to you, whether you are a parent with young children you have to lift, a construction worker, a runner or a weight lifter. It applies to everybody!

The core is, in effect, a cylinder of muscles controlling your trunk posture. The top of the cylinder is your diaphragm, the bottom is the pelvic floor. The muscles that surround the “can” are grouped into what we call “Global” muscles and “Local” muscles. The Global muscles support mobility and effective orientation in the spine by performing larger scape movements: The rectus abdominis (6-pack), the lateral fibers of the external obliques, the psoas major and the erector spinae. The “Local” muscles are less well known. These are the deeper muscles that stabilize inter-segmental mobility. The multifidi are tiny muscles that bridge vertebral segments in your spine, the quadratus lumborum (QL) attaches to each vertebrae in your lumbar spine and your pelvis/ribs, and the transversus abdominis (TA). Most people know how to work the “Global” muscles, but have great difficulty recruiting the “Local” muscles, especially the multifidi and transversus abdominis. These are the first muscles to contract in order to stabilize the spine while moving an extremity.

As most people do not have a good idea of where these are, I am including pictures of the TA and the multifidi.

All of the Physical Therapists at Coal Creek Physical Therapy, are highly trained in facilitating proper core recruitment and reeducating proper movement patterns. If you have back pain, if you are not performing at a competitive level, if you want to prevent injuries and aren’t sure about how to strengthen your core.

Come see us! We’d love to help you Feel Better and Live a Life you Love!

Chantal McDonald, PT, MSPT, OCS, MTC


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