A lot is being said lately about the core muscles and their role in improving athletic performance and preventing certain types of injury. However, there is some confusion about what muscles make up the “core”. The core muscles have been described as the corset of muscles that wrap around the abdomen and back. They are known as the “core” because they provide a solid base for the initiation of movement in the extremities. Core stability is critical for proper posture, movement and balance.
What are the core muscles?
Different muscles are sometimes included by experts in the list of core muscles, but generally they are the muscles that attach directly or indirectly to the spinal column and thoracolumbar fascia. They comprise of the abdominals at the front, the paraspinal and gluteal muscles at the back, and the hip musculature at the bottom. These muscles are grouped here:
- The abdominals – made up of the rectus abdominus (usually referred to as the six-pack), the transverse abdominus and the internal and external obliques.
- The back muscles - the multifidus and the erector spinae. They extend the spine and keep it upright.
- Gluteal muscles – the muscles of the buttocks which include the gluteus maximus, minimus and medius.
- Hip flexors – a group of muscles in the front of the pelvis and the thigh that serve to flex the hip (raise the leg forwards).
- Hip abductors – located at the side of the hip, they abduct the hip (move the leg sideways away from the body).
- Hip extensors – located in the back of the hip, they extend (raise the leg backwards.)
- Hip adductors – They adduct the hip (bring the leg in towards the body) and are located in the groin.
Uses of core stability
- Helps to reduce back pain.
- Prevents muscle imbalance, thereby decreasing the risk of injury.
- Increases athletic performance in various sports.
- Aids in the treatment of low back pain, sacroiliac pain, groin pain and hamstring strain.
- Improves posture and takes the strain off the spine.
Physiotherapists regularly make use of core stability in their rehabilitation programmes because it helps all the muscles of the core to work more efficiently together. Strong core muscles benefit not just the athlete, but the housewife, employees who do heavy lifting on their jobs, pregnant women as well as those who have just given birth. Core stability trains all the muscles to contract together at the right time – before any movement of the extremities takes place - and thus prevent injury. At Exercise Prescription and Physiotherapy, we can help you improve your functional fitness by improving your core stability via physiotherapy, so you can perform better at whatever you do. Why not come in and see us today?
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